Why Aquatic Therapy Offers More Options for Pain Relief
For individuals who suffer from chronic pain and restriction of movement due to pain that affects their mobility, it can be deeply discouraging when common treatment methods don’t work. When “everything hurts” and relief seems impossible, the outlook is quite bleak. But Aquatic Therapy offers more options for pain relief, and is sometimes more successful than other treatment methods due to its alternative approach to treating pain.
One of the most superficial reasons why aquatic therapy is a more successful treatment for pain is the environment. Aquatic therapy is done in a pool to help increase blood flow as you move, while the resistance of the water helps tense muscles relax. The nature of your body’s buoyancy in water reduces your body weight by up to 90 percent when submerged, supporting your weak muscles enough to allow you to exercise and strengthen them with aquatic therapy.
Since buoyancy significantly reduces the aggressor of gravity, you can enjoy greater flexibility and range of motion as you perform your aquatic therapy sessions. The force of water molecules on your submerged body, called hydrostatic pressure, has some greatly beneficial effects that contribute to aquatic therapy exercises. It automatically reduces edema and even pain, dampens the tactile sensory input to the brain to allow you to relax and experience less pain sensitivity (this is great for people who are tactilely defensive), and stimulates circulation to get blood to injured areas.
The nature of hydrostatic pressure is that it puts pressure equally around the body, creating muscle balance that can help relieve a lot of common problems such as orthopedic issues and back pain. The patient can stand, support their own body weight, and even perform gait and strength training exercises in the water, which they may not be able to do on land.
Finally, aquatic therapy is a treatment method available for some individuals who are unable to do other more common exercises to treat their pain. People with traumatic brain injury, and others who are unable to support their bodyweight on land fall into this group.
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