Muscle and joint pain can have a wide array of causes and can be both acute and chronic. Physical therapy is an essential part of the healing process after surgery, and injury, or for issues causing chronic pain or loss of function. If you are searching for a physical therapist using the “Find a physical therapist near me” function, add aqua therapy into the search.
Avant-Garde, offering professional physical therapy in NYC, uses aqua therapy as a tool to help relieve joint and muscle pain. Aqua therapy can help restore function and provide low-impact exercise.
The goal of physical therapy, including aqua therapy, is to reduce pain while improving function. Talk with your physical therapist about the goals you both hope to achieve at the end of your treatment. Physical therapists use a measurement of functional independence to track your progress through therapy. The goal is to restore you to your baseline level of function.
The functional independence measurement (FIM) assesses and grades the status of a person based on the amount of assistance you require in everyday activities. A clinician will use the FMI to measure eighteen items that help determine your level of disability and will use the FMI to track improvement. When you reach functional independence, you may no longer need physical therapy.
The benefits of aqua therapy
Combining the physical properties of water with exercise can help manage both chronic and acute pain. Aquatic therapy centers around relieving pain and restoring function. The water provides a perfect environment by providing buoyancy to relieve the stress on muscles and joints, resistance to improve endurance, hydrostatic pressure, and thermal conduction, which can help relax muscles and reduce skeletal pain.
Most patience enjoys the experience of aqua therapy, which improves compliance with treatment. The water is warm, relaxing, and you will work with your physical therapist to determine the types of exercises and movements that will provide the most benefit. Studies have shown that aqua therapy provides measurable benefits as a part of physical therapy because the properties of water itself provide:
Buoyance—when submerged in water, buoyancy supports your weight, decreasing the amount of weight-bearing force placed on joints. This aspect of water is useful for patients who are working to heal fractured bones, have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or those who are overweight.
Resistance—the resistance provided by water helps build, maintain, or restore muscles without the use of weights.
Hydrostatic pressure—hydrostatic pressure produced by water decreases swelling and helps to improve joint position awareness. The hydrostatic pressure is especially beneficial for patients who have suffered joint sprains or strains.
Temperature—The warmth of the water in aquatic therapy helps relax tense muscles and vasodilates blood vessels, increase blood flow to the damaged area. This aspect is most helpful to patients with back pain, muscle spasms, fibromyalgia, and other pain conditions.
The limitations of aquatic therapy
Aquatic therapy is not the right therapy choice for everyone. Some people, such as those with cardiac disease, may not be a good match for aquatic therapy. If you have a fever, infection, or bowel/bladder incontinence, you should not participate in aquatic therapy. If you have ports, catheters, or open wounds, please make sure you inform your physical therapist. You are not a candidate for aqua therapy while you have any open sores or wounds.
If you are unable to swim, make sure that your physical therapist knows your limitations. You should be supervised at all times when in the pool. If you experience pain, discomfort, or anxiety while participating in aqua therapy, let the clinician know immediately. Aqua therapy should be a relaxing experience, and if it is not, then your physical therapist should work with you to establish a physical therapy routine that is best for you.