Hydrotherapy may be helpful if you have back pain or other difficulties that affect walking and movement. Hydrotherapy is exercise therapy in a warm-water pool, usually within a hospital’s physiotherapy department, with specially trained staff or a physiotherapist supervising the exercises. Usually other people undergoing treatment will share the pool with you.
Hydrotherapy involves slow, controlled movements that help to improve your range of movement and can be particularly helpful in relieving pain. By pushing your arms and legs against the water’s resistance, you can increase muscle strength and balance and improve mobility, and the support of the warm water encourages relaxation of tight muscles and joints.
Your GP or hospital doctor may be able to refer you to your local NHS hydrotherapy department, usually for a course of five or six half-hour sessions.
Before you start, you will be seen by the physiotherapist, who will assess your individual needs. You do not need to be able to swim to participate in hydrotherapy. The pool is usually fairly shallow and most have a range of depths so that you can exercise at a depth that suits you.
There will be a good supply of floats and a rail around the edge, and you are never left alone as there is always at least one staff member in the pool with you. Even those who feel nervous in swimming pools find hydrotherapy safe, soothing and beneficial. If you have difficulty using the steps into the pool, a mechanical hoist will be available to gently lower you into or out of the water.
Once the course has finished, your physiotherapist may suggest continuing with aqua aerobics in your local swimming pool. This is usually a more strenuous form of exercise and the water will be cooler. Sometimes, it is possible to pay for extra sessions in the hydrotherapy pool, although this may be without the close supervision of a member of staff that you had during the course.
Most complementary therapies have not undergone the rigorous testing and clinical trials expected of conventional medicine so you are unlikely to find proof that they work to reduce pain. However, having gathered sufficient information, you may wish to try complementary therapies as part of your pain-management plan.
Some of the most commonly used therapies are acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic therapy, the Alexander Technique, aromatherapy, reflexology, herbal medicine and homeopathy. It is important to let the therapist know if you have had spinal or other fractures or are at high risk of fractures because of osteoporosis.
Complementary therapies for pain and symptoms after fractures