Arthritis has been one of the health concerns that is gaining more importance in the recent past because of the higher number of people getting affected by it. This is a condition, which causes pain in the joints and muscles attached to the bone joints. Usually, this is caused by the weakness in the bones or because of age factors. Though there is no complete cure for the condition, there are various ways to relieve the pain and ease the symptoms.

Hydrotherapy is one of them.

What is Hydrotherapy?

There are various types of therapies that help a person to relieve the symptoms caused by different illnesses. People choose therapies to relax their body and mind, which in turn helps to feel better during an illness. Though this therapy is gaining importance in recent times, this is not a modern one. Hydrotherapy or water therapy has been in practice since ancient times.

Hydrotherapy specifically focusses on general well-being and reduce discomforts. The continuous treatment has reduced symptoms that are related to arthritis, joint pain, lower back pain, other orthopedic conditions, and neurological conditions.

It is a set of controlled movements done in a water body like a pool or tub that is filled with warm water. When someone decides to take up hydrotherapy, it is always highly recommended that it should be done with the help of a specialized/professional trainer.

Recent studies show that people who suffer from strokes, trauma, and other orthopedic injuries due to accidents are also cured.

External hydrotherapy

This type involves the usage of hot or cold water on the external body. Sometimes even ice is used for the treatment. This temperature-based therapy can be done either using cold water or hot water or a combination of both. The usage of hot water is recommended for people who are stressed and suffer from pain. This helps them to relax and eliminate stress.

Coldwater is used to stimulate and activate the internal body parts which need a push to get a movement. Even moist environments or rooms like sauna are part of the hydrotherapy process, which helps to remove toxins from the body through sweat.

External therapy includes cold and hot compresses too. The pack of hot or cold compresses can be placed on the affected area to reduce pain, inflammation, improve strength, and increase flexibility.

Internal therapy

Internal therapy includes the consumption of water for colonic irrigation, removing toxins, and cleansing the bowel. Enema is also a part of the therapy, which helps in emptying the complete bowel, which helps in general health improvement. This also helps to regularize the digestive system.

How is it done?

The general practice is by immersing someone in a hot tub, swimming pool, cold water treatments, sauna, water vapor, or administering water only on the affected area.

There are therapy centers or spas’ that have hot springs, mineral springs, sitz baths, water massage, and water baths. They also as necessary salt or essential oils for additional relief. Few people prefer using hot or cold wet towels on the affected area and that is also considered as a type of hydrotherapy.

People who seek hydrotherapy need to take it up for a specified continuous duration to find relief.

How does it help reduce symptoms of arthritis?

Improves strength

Continuous therapy can help you gain strength in the affected muscles. It helps you get better posture while walking and standing. The water pressure helps you defy gravity and makes the muscles and joints stronger.

Improves blood circulation

Hydrotherapy also helps to increase blood circulation that reduces stress on the affected area. It helps in the healing of the injury or inflammation internally. It helps to circulate more oxygen to the injured tissues and muscles, which helps to relieve pain and inflammation.

Improves sleep

Hydrotherapy basically helps in removing stress from your day to day life. It also helps you to elevate your vibes, which helps you relax and improves sleep.

Treats depression

There are many people who get into depression when they have physical problems that limit their movement. Especially with health conditions like arthritis will make your movements limited and causes pain when you put more pressure. When a person gets hydrotreatment on a regular basis, it helps him/her to get out of the depression. It also gives an opportunity to meet new people and make the routine excited.

Increases flexibility

The relaxation of injured muscles helps in increasing the flexibility of the joints with ease. When you try to move the affected muscles with pain, the additional effort results in increasing the pain. When the therapy is followed rigorously, movement and the pain during the movement become less, which in turn improves the flexibility.

Improves immunity

This therapy improves the flow of blood all over the body, which in turn helps the white blood cells to move all around the body. This makes the internal system strong and helps in gaining immunity. Regular therapy using water also benefits skin health.

Coldwater and warm water

There are different types of hydrotherapy that help to recover and manage arthritis effectively. One type of therapy uses cold water, which helps in stimulating and kindle the internal movements. This can be basically done by focusing on one particular part of the body say legs, hands, or back. This stimulates the internal muscles to function more effectively.

The other type of therapy uses warm water that is basically used to soothe and calm the affected area. This helps them to relax and forget the pain and symptoms while movements.

There are various other methods like water jets and features that help you detox and improve the general health conditions. External application of compresses helps in the reduction of acne, pimples and also have said to improve the complexion of the skin.

Risks or side effects of hydrotherapy

There are no major side effects when it comes to this type of therapy. It might cause allergic reactions to people who are allergic to essential oils or aroma. Too much time spent on the hot tub can sometimes cause irritation on the skin. Internal administration of water like enema, colon irrigation, or douching can affect the regular mechanism of the body for some people. Finding a good place for therapy is also one of the key points to note. If the spa or the therapy center does not change the water or cleanse the water regularly, there are high chances of getting affected by contact dermatitis, which causes skin allergies.

Also please note, cold or hot baths are not advisable for young or older people. People who suffer from cardiac-related issues need a doctor’s prescription or recommendation before starting the therapy.


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  • Perl, A., Lee, P. Y. F. & Okamoto, H., 2020. Journal of Arthritis. IOMC, 9(4).


  • Sylvester, K. L., 1990. Investigation of the effect of hydrotherapy in the treatment of osteoarthritic hips. SAGE Journals, 4(3).


  • T V, S., 1999. A Handbook of Herbal Cures for Common Ailments. s.l.:Penguin Books Ltd.


Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.