Sep 4, 2012

Hydrotherapy Part II


(Here's the link to Hydrotherapy Part I)

This is a continuation of an earlier post, wherein I described the use of warm and cold packs or a combination of the two to help alleviate pain and speed healing. Here are some further thoughts, in Q & A form, on using hydrotherapy:

Q: Why should I use Hydrotherapy?
A: No doubt about it, hydrotherapy takes a little time and effort. So why bother? Pain is a great motivator, and hydrotherapy is an excellent, easy, non-invasive, cheap and readily available way to quickly reduce pain (and perhaps get a good night's sleep). Just using hot and cold packs to address a specific area for a few moments, or soaking in a warm tub and rinsing off with a 30-second cold shower for a full-body treatment can bring comfort and relief.

Q: How often should I use hot/cold packs?
A: It is typically recommended to administer hydrotherapy for 15-20 minutes every hour for three hours per day. I personally recommend do just do what you can, as far as you're motivated, and don't beat yourself up if you only do a little bit. If all you can manage is to slap on a frozen bag of peas to your shoulder while you catch the evening news or read an article, that's great.

Q: How long should a hydrotherapeutic session last?
A: Hydrotherapy sessions should not extend past 20 minutes per treatment. If you're taking hot bath, don't over do it. If you have a cold pack applied, do not fall asleep with it on, if you're using a heating pad, do not forget about it or fall asleep with it. Too much of either hot or cold therapy can cause unnecessary inflammation, and thus cause pain and inhibit the healing process.

Q: How do I know which to use, Hot? Cold? Both?
A: Go with what works best for you. Be fair to yourself and give each a try. I am a big advocated of contrast hydrotherapy (using both hot and cold), but more than anything, I recommend using what works best for you. Remember, contrast therapy uses a 3:1 ratio, with warm being applied for 3 minutes and cold for 1 minute. You can play around with the timing, just stick to the ratio of 3:1 and always end on cold.

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