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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What is hydrotherapy and how is it useful to arthritis patients?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Dr Carmel Nottle

    Exercise Physiologist

    I have been an Accredited Exercise Physiologist since 2006 and I am currently working both as a practicing professional and also as a lecturer teaching … View Profile

    Hydrotheraphy can be one of two things.  The first is a therapeutic intervention in the water which helps to improve range of movement.  The second is more like an aqua aerobics class that is an exercise workout that is performed in the water.  Hydrotheraphy is useful to arthritis patients as it allows movement to be performed without loading the joints the same as you do on land.  This means that the joint can be strengthen and range of movement increased without increasing pain for the person.  If you have the right person prescribing it for you it can also assist with fitness and weight loss, both of which are beneficial for individuals with arthritis.

  • Jodie Krantz

    Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor

    As a Physiotherapist for many years, I have a special interest in managing chronic and recurrent pain using exercise. Our small team of Physiotherapists are … View Profile

    Hydrotherapy is therapeutic exercise in warm water. The warmth of the water helps to relax muscles and increase range of movement. The buoyancy of the water supports some of the body weight, taking strain off the main weight-bearing joints, so it's especially helpful for people with foot, ankle, knee and hip pain. The more of the body that is submerged, the more weight is taken off the joints. Movement against the resistance of the water and small equipment such as floats and paddles can also be used to help with body support or strengthening.

    Group fitness classes in the water (for example Aquarobics and deep water running classes) can be good for general fitness, but can sometimes aggravate lower back pain. This may occur if you don't know how to stabalise the lower back during exercise, particularly if you have a ‘sway back’ or increased lumbar lordosis. Individual work with a hydrotherapy instructor may help.  Clinical Pilates with a Physiotherapist can also teach you how to stabalise the pelvis and lower back so that other forms or exercise, such as hydrotherapy, walking or cycling are safer and more effective.

    Hydrotherapy alone may not be enough if you also suffer from osteoporosis. Land-based exercises such as a supervised weights programme with an Exercise Physiologist, or Clinical Pilates with a Physiotherapist could be a better approach, supplemented with regular walking for cardio-vasular health.

    Individual supervised hydrotherapy programmes are safer for people who have a significant pain or movement problem, especially  to begin with. Australian Physiotherapy training includes training in hydrotherapy and some Physiotherapists specialise in this area. You can find them on the Australian Physiotherapy Association website under ‘Find a Physio - Aquatic’. My experience in this area is that I have run both group and individual hydrotherapy sessions in the past (at St John of God hospital in Bunbury).

  • Sandra McFaul


    Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain or neck pain? Based in SYDNEY, Sandra is 1 of ONLY 15 Physiotherapists in Australia with ADVANCED … View Profile

    Hydrotherapy means doing exercises in water.  It is usefule for people suffering from arthritis are it puts less pressure on joints when exercising in water.  You could go to a pool yourself or you may want to join a class which helps with motivation and being commited to exercising.

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