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All about Hydrotherapy and its various Types or Treatments

By Edited Aug 24, 2016 1 0
boy under water
Credit: Maliz Ong

From: Publicdomainpictures.net

Water has always been promoted as a highly beneficial substance. Throughout the years, it was used not only for human survival, but for its healing properties as well. Hydrotherapy is actually a field of alternative medicine wherein water is typically used to ease discomfort, an anti-stress activity and many more. Having said that, in this article you will read about the fundamentals of this specific field along with the different types of hydrotherapy.

A brief description of hydrotherapy

As mentioned above, hydrotherapy is the use of water to alleviate discomforts. But, this field of alternative medicine is not only focused on easing one’s pain. It is also used in relieving stress, treating certain ailments and enhancing one’s overall health and well-being. However, depending on the type of hydrotherapy used, not all methods will bring forth all these benefits. Some methods are focused on promoting comfort while others are designed to treat or cure certain diseases. All these methods will be thoroughly discussed in the latter part of this article.

Going back to the basics of hydrotherapy, one may ask if this alternative medicine practice is effective? Most methods used in hydrotherapy revolves around the concept of “hot” and “cold” therapy. To explain this concept further, when anything cold comes in contact with your body, it causes a stimulating reaction. Aside from that, your blood vessels constrict leading to decelerated blood flow. Heat on the other hand, is relaxing. It tends to dilate blood vessels and at the same time increase your blood flow. In addition to that, heat also causes sweating. Hence, you can also release or eliminate body toxins through heat applications. If you alternate hot and cold, it can stimulate blood circulation, eliminate toxins and reduce inflammation. Considering this concept, we can say that hydrotherapy has some valid claims especially when it comes to easing or relieving pain, swelling and stress. 

Types of hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is mostly applied externally. But, there are also some types or treatments that are for internal use. Each of them can offer various health benefits depending on the treatment used. To give you some examples, here is a list of the most common methods or treatments under this specific field of alternative medicine.

jacuzzi
Credit: Petr Kratochvil

From: publicdomainpictures.net

Sitz baths

One of today’s most popular hydrotherapy treatment for hemorrhoids, back pain (lower), itching and muscle spasms within the anal area is sitz bath. This can also be used in increasing blood flow within the said area. Typically, this method is usually prescribed in patients that have undergone a surgical procedure for cleansing purposes, to ease the pain and to promote faster healing.

Basically, during this treatment, your hips are immersed in hot or cold water. Medications or other substances like baking soda, Epsom salt and vinegar can also be added depending on your underlying medical condition. You can also do this at home if you have a plastic sitz bath. 

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Steam bath and sauna

Most of you may be familiar with saunas and steam baths. Yes, there is a distinction between the two. But, both uses heat, which results in sweating. According to various studies, these two are also good for relaxation, managing pain and loosening or clearing mucus in your respiratory system. However, keep in mind that steam can trigger asthma. For that reason, asthmatic patients should only opt for saunas. In addition to that; individuals who are pregnant, taking mood-altering medications and those who have cardiovascular diseases should also avoid these places. If you are perfectly healthy, you should still limit your stay in these areas for 15 to 20 minutes. And, of course, don’t forget to drink water or fluids afterwards to avoid dehydration. 

Aquatic physical therapy or Watsu

Another interesting treatment is Watsu. Basically, this treatment is a mixture of shiatsu (massage) or muscle stretching and hydrotherapy since it is normally done in a specialized pool that has warm water. Its primary benefit is to relive stress and muscle tension. But, it can also be applied for pain management and to develop your muscles’ flexibility. Nonetheless, this treatment requires a competent therapist since there are several body movements and muscle stretching involved. This specific hydrotherapy treatment is usually offered in spas. 

Irrigations and enema

The main purpose of irrigations and enema is for internal body cleansing or detoxification. In this process, you will flush water in your body to flush-out harmful debris or substances. One common example is nasal irrigation where in water containing a small amount of salt is slowly poured or flushed in your nasal cavity to remove excess mucus and dirt. Colonic irrigation is another example. However, there are some controversies revolving around this method. Some say it's effective for detoxifying your body while others says otherwise. Nonetheless, it is best to thoroughly research this specific topic before opting for one.

As for enema, its procedures are mostly similar to colonic irrigation. However, it only focuses on the lower part of one’s colon. Furthermore, enema is only infused once and can be done by non-professionals. If you are seeking more information about enema, this article entitled “Understanding the Mechanism behind Coffee Enema” may give you some helpful information. 

Others

There are many more hydrotherapy treatments that are not mentioned above such as mineral bath, hot or cold compress, wraps, motion-based hydrotherapy and other spa offered treatments. Most of these methods or practices promote a relaxing state. But, others are also designed to relieve pain, flu symptoms and other minor discomforts.

sauna
Credit: wikimedia commons - public domain

Is hydrotherapy safe?

Most types of hydrotherapy that are externally applied are considered safe. Some may need professional help and tools while others can easily be done at home. However, as I mentioned above, you should do a thorough research before trying any internally administered hydrotherapy like colonic irrigations and enema. As for sitz baths, nasal irrigation, hot or cold compresses and arm or foot baths; you can simply do these at home without severe risks involved. But, make sure to know every step by step procedures before doing it to avoid minor injuries. 

 

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Bibliography

  1. "When to Use Hot and Cold Therapy." University of Rochester Medical Center (Health Encyclopedia). 6/06/2013 <Web >
  2. Cathy Wong "Hydrotherapy ." About.com. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  3. "hydrotherapy Information." Natural Therapy. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  4. "Hydrotherapy Treatments." Essential Oils. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  5. "Sitz Bath - Nature's Soaking Secret." HemorrhoidSorted. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  6. Hannah Wahlig "Sauna vs. Steam Room Health Benefits." azcentral.com. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  7. Hannah Wahlig "Sauna vs. Steam Room Health Benefits." azcentral.com. 6/06/2013 <Web >
  8. Stephanie Watson "Neti Pot, Nasal Irrigation Pros and Cons." Web MD. 6/06/2013 <Web >

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