Aquatic Therapy for Chronic Pain

There are several chronic pain syndromes that many people deal with today. While the exact mechanisms of most chronic pain syndromes are not widely understood, treatments vary.  A balanced approach to managing chronic pain is almost always the best route to take. Some of the different ways of dealing with chronic pain are getting treatment, partaking in a support group, consulting with a medical professional; and for some, medication.  Aquatic therapy is an emerging form of physical therapy treatment that has been shown to provide effective relief of chronic pain.

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There are several methods by which a pool helps to relieve pain.  Patients with an RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) find that the warm water calms their sensitivity to touch.  Patients with chronic lower back pain find relief due to the buoyancy force of water counteracting the effect of gravity on their spine.  Patients with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia often receive relief of their lower back pain via the hydrostatic pressure force surrounding their legs.  This force can “jam” pain signals by changing what stimuli are being sent to the brain.

This relief of pain, however brief or lasting, allows people with chronic pain to perform health benefiting exercises in a pool that they would not be able to tolerate on land.  Aquatic therapy may not be right for everyone, but it has been shown to consistently help patients that would not be able to tolerate the pain otherwise.