THE USE OF AQUATIC THERAPY FOR TREATMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS

With the upcoming opening of our Freehold location in late 2017, which will offer aquatic therapy services to those that may require it, I thought it a good idea to share with you some of the benefits of aquatic therapy for the treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis.

To review, osteoarthritis (more commonly known as just “arthritis”) is defined as the breakdown of articular cartilage within a joint. What that means is, cartilage, which is present as a cushioning agent between bones, wears away. When this occurs, bone rubs against bone, and because bone has lots of nerve input, people with this condition experience pain.

AQUATIC THERAPY FOR TREATMENT OF OSTEOARTHRITIS hip
AQUATIC-THERAPY-FOR-TREATMENT-OF-OSTEOARTHRITIS

Pain caused by arthritic changes in joints results in increased joint inflammation, range of motion loss, muscle weakness, and an overall reduction in the ability to perform daily activities, including tasks as simple as walking, driving, and going to work.Often, people suffering from hip or knee osteoarthritis cannot tolerate land based exercise due to the need to bear weight through these joints. That’s where aquatic therapy comes in. Let’s explore some of the benefits of aquatic therapy that make it a perfect substitute for treating those with hip or knee arthritis:

Buoyancy – A force that acts against gravity in a water environment. Felt as an upward thrust, buoyancy unweights joints and allows for more tolerable weight bearing. The more submerged a person is, the more buoyancy becomes a factor.

Hydrostatic Pressure – Water molecules exert an equal amount of pressure around an object or person. The deeper the water, the higher the pressure. Water pressure around an arthritic joint can help to reduce swelling and aid in blood flow.

Viscosity – The interaction between liquid molecules that determines the thickness of the liquid. While the viscosity of water is relatively low, it can provide resistance to a person’s limbs when exercising in the water, thus negating the need for weights or resistance bands.

By using these principles of water to advantage, a physical therapist can design an aquatic treatment program that is tolerable for a patient with hip or knee osteoarthritis than would otherwise be impossible on land (that is, in the gym). So, for anyone with arthritis who has hit a wall with traditional physical therapy treatment, aquatic therapy may be perfect for you! Keep an eye out for the opening of our Freehold location to schedule your aquatic therapy!

And look for my next installment on specific aquatic treatment methods in the coming weeks! Thanks for reading, and remember – wetter is better!

Dr. Rob Kohutanycz, PT, DPT

Posted in: All Posts, Ankle/ Foot, Elbow/ Wrist/ Hand, Evidence Based Medicine, Fitness, Health & Wellness, Hip/ SI Joint, Knee, Physical Therapy, Shoulder

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