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Hydrotherapy: Relief for Aching Bones and Joints

The use of hot or cold water, or a combination of both, to treat aches and pains is nothing new. In ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, taking baths to treat pain and illnesses was extremely common. In fact, Rome had public baths where anyone who wanted to soak in a warm, comforting bath could do so.
Today, water therapy or hydrotherapy is still very common, and it is used to treat numerous types of conditions including arthritis, spinal cord injuries, burns, strokes, paralysis and other types of orthopedic injuries. Hydrotherapy is also used in weight loss and to improve overall health and fitness. Hydrotherapy is especially beneficial in patients of advanced age as it is an ideal way to reduce inflammation and pain caused from arthritis as well as a low-impact way to stay active.
Modern Hydrotherapy Treatments
In the past, hydrotherapy often consisted of the patient sitting in a hot or cold bath. Today, however, there are many different types of hydrotherapy treatments to choose from. This makes it possible to customize hydrotherapy treatment for each individual patient. A patient can also find relief from a wide variety of symptoms by picking and choosing one or more hydrotherapy methods.
The following are five of the most common hydrotherapy treatments:
•    Packing – In this hydrotherapy method, wet cloth or a wet sheet is wrapped around the body. Dry blankets are then placed over the wet material. If the packing is tight, the body or area being treated becomes warm as body heat is trapped against the body. If the packing is loose, the patient feels a cooling sensation. After some time, the packing is removed and a warm bath and massage follows.
•    Sauna – The sauna is another form of hydrotherapy and consists of dry heated air. Sometimes steam can be used as well. The patient simply sits in the sauna and relaxes while the temperature gradually increases or is steadily maintained. Exposure can last a short while (20 minutes) or for an hour or more. This form of hydrotherapy is also followed by a bath.
•    Bathing – Hydrotherapy baths can be administered several ways. The patient can soak in standing water or relax under a gentle spray of water. Alternating hot and cold sponge baths is a popular method as well.
•    Localized Hydrotherapy – When an injury is localized to a specific area, localized hydrotherapy can be used. In this method, baths are administered to an area rather than the whole body. A great example of this would be a foot bath. There are also whirlpools that are used to treat specific parts of the body.
•    Compresses – Hot and cold compresses are also a form of hydrotherapy. These are used to reduce swelling and lessen pain. They can also be used to decongest the sinuses and chest.
Hydrotherapy is most commonly used in physical therapy. However, many people use hydrotherapy at home as an alternative remedy when other types of medications and treatments do not work. There are no side effects associated with hydrotherapy and it is a very inexpensive treatment. It is also highly effective.



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