Hydrotherapy for Spinal Arthritis in the Lower Back
To combat symptoms associatedwith spinal arthritis in the lowerback, hydrotherapy, ortreatment through submersionin water, is often recommended.It is a particularly usefulalternative for patients whosepain, stiffness, and othersymptoms make it difficult tocope with a land-based exerciseregimen.
What Does Hydrotherapy Involve?Hydrotherapy can take place in a pool, awhirlpool, a water spa, and even in a bathtub.It can include activities such as swimming,stretching, wading, “peddling” the legs underwater, and more. Hydrotherapy also can beused in combination with low-impact landexercises, depending on the mobility of thepatient.
The Benefits of Water TherapyAlthough no scientific study has confirmed that hydrotherapy can providerelief for patients suffering from spinal arthritis in the lower back, there areseveral undeniable benefits of exercising or rehabilitating in water. Theseinclude:• The natural soothing sensation of water set at a certain temperature (warm or cold can be used, depending on the patient).• The ability of water in motion (as in a whirlpool) to help relax muscles and reduce swelling.• The elimination of the potentially painful jarring motion inherent to walking or jogging.• Aerobic exercise and hydrostatic pressure, which both aid in the improvement of cardiovascular health.
Who Should Avoid Hydrotherapy?While performing therapeutic exercises in water presentslittle danger to those who know how to swim, non-swimmers should inform their physical therapist ordoctor before consenting to a program of hydrotherapy.In addition, patients suffering from a high fever, severecardiovascular disease, incontinence, or an infection ofsome sort should not attempt hydrotherapy for spinalarthritis in the lower back. In fact, even the strongestswimmers should consult with their doctor or therapistbefore beginning any kind of exercise regimen designedto treat arthritis symptoms.
Additional Treatment OptionsAlong with hydrotherapy, patients with spinal arthritisin the lower back may also find symptomatic relief withother nonsurgical, conservativetherapies. Some of the mostcommon doctor-recommendedmethods include non-steroidalanti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),pain medication, facet jointinjections, hot or cold therapy,and lifestyle modifications,among others.