Arthritis is a common ailment, effecting about 1 in 6 people in the United States. There are many different types of arthritis but the most common is the type that progresses slowly as we age. Joints start to lose their flexibility over time as the elasticity of the connective tissue and “padding” between bones becomes more rigid, causing the joints to swell and become large and painful. When pain occurs, the muscles around the joints become tense as they try to stabilize the joint and relieve some of the “workload” on the joint when it’s in use. This in turn leads to muscle cramping and fatigue and adds to the pain a person experiences.
Warm hydrotherapy is recommended by doctors to treat symptoms of arthritis. In fact, it has been proven more effective than dry heat treatments, like heating pads or heating packs. Warm hydrotherapy dilates blood vessels in the body that in turns leads to increased blood flow to the joints and muscles. This helps relax the muscles around the joints and helps “lubricate” the connective tissues, enabling joints to work a little more smoothly and relieves cramping and stiffness. Both effects help ease the pain of arthritis and provide soothing relief.
In some cases, doctors will recommend using an alternative treatment of hot and cold hydrotherapy. Doing one and then the other causes repeated arterial dilation, and this seems to help relieve the pain more effectively in some people.
Always Consult a Health Professional
As with any medical treatment, it is important that patients talk first with their doctors and embark upon home treatments only under their guidance and supervision. Too much hot or cold can cause injury or make issues worse, so its important that a knowledgeable professional help craft a treatment plan that is right for each individual. Once a treatment program has been agreed upon, progress should be monitored and reported back on an ongoing basis so that adjustments can be made as needed to protect the patient’s health and safety.