In the UK it is thought that ten million people suffer with arthritis, affecting people of all ages. It’s a common condition that causes inflammation to the joint and at times severe pain. Often the people that tend to get arthritis are adults in their late forties or older. More specifically, it usually occurs in women and those that have a family history of the condition.
There are two main forms of the crippling condition which are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. The former affects around eight million people and harms the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult, leading to stiffness and pain.
Over time the cartilage inevitably starts to thin out and roughen, as a result the ligaments and tendons have to work harder. This can cause swelling and red patches along the body. In more severe cases, substantial loss of cartilage can force bones to rub together, altering the shape of a joint.
Alternatively, Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people. The distinct difference between the two forms of arthritis is that Rheumatoid comes about when the body’s immune system specifically targets affected joints. This again leads to swelling and pain.
With this form of arthritis the first place that is usually affected is the outer covering of the joint. This then has the ability to spread across the joint, again changing the joints shape and causing swelling. The cartilage actually has the ability to breakdown completely with those who suffer this type of arthritis, as well as developing further problems with other tissues and organs in the body.
Having described the two most common types of the condition in the UK, it perhaps comes as a bit of surprise that there is no cure for the condition. However, there are many treatments that have the ability to slow down the process and help to alleviate pain. Far from the extreme measures of undergoing surgery, there are many natural ways to overcome conditions. One of these is hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy is essentially the use of water for the treatment of different conditions or ailments. And the idea of treating disease through water is no new concept. In fact, it is a centuries old tradition in Greek and Roman cultures. Essentially the belief is that water is used as a medium to manage and overcome disease.
Hydrotherapy treatments are effective for those that suffer with arthritis because the buoyancy of the water reduces the effect of gravity or pressure on the joints. Because of this, the movements which usually cause pain on land can be easily performed when submerged in water. Other benefits of hydrotherapy include:
- To manufacture a soothing response and ameliorate the feeling of discomfort or pain.
- To encourage tissue repair.
- Increased joint movement and activity to reduce swelling from inflamed tissues.
- Reduction in feeling of stiffness in joints
- Improved circulation due to continued blood flow to different parts of the body
- Improved ability to manage agitation, anxiety and stress which are associated with arthritis pain, as well as improving flexibility and muscle pain.
Having named several benefits of hydrotherapy for the effective treatment of arthritis, there are also ways in which these can be amplified. For example, by simply changing the temperature of the water, the treatment for arthritis can be enhanced. High water temperatures can relax the body, soothe muscles and have the ability to make tense, stiff muscles loose again.
Cold water on the other hand, is normally used to increase impulses and reduce sharp pain or swelling by nullifying the pain receptors. Occasionally, both hot and cold water temperature variations are used to treat the condition. In this case, a warm bath would then be followed immediately by a cold shower.
The great thing about using hydrotherapy as a treatment for arthritis is that there are almost no side effects and is considered a great form of alternative therapy. Hydrotherapy has been known to Hydrate cells, improve muscle relaxation, stimulates the immune system, increases metabolism and improves overall digestion. Overall, it used for increased body functioning and improved blood flow.
It is true to say that long term arthritis conditions positively contribute to having a better quality of life and greater independence from the treatment of hydrotherapy. Also the treatments available to sufferers are often limited which also highlights the importance that hydrotherapy could have for someone with arthritis.