Arthritis in a Painfree World

OA in a Painfree World - Aquatic Therapy for Patients with Arthritis

By Daniel Seidler, PT, MS, Clinical Director at WSPT, MotionPT Group

Many of my patients have told me that “when you have arthritis you often just don’t want to move.” Besides the pain of movement, the impact of contact with the ground causes severe pain with every step. Walking accentuates this force because the entire body weight is repeatedly shifted entirely onto the affected side. Someone with an arthritic joint will often compensate or limp in order to minimize the weight on that injured limb or side of the body. Compensations often lead to other asymmetries and then 1 dysfunctional body part evolves into multiple problems.


The pain of arthritis will also cause many people to limit their activity level. The results are increased swelling/edema, stiffness, weakness, and weight gain. These symptoms lead to more pain and the cycle continues and progresses.


When a patient with arthritis presents to physical therapy, the primary objective of the PT is to maximize the patient’s overall function with minimal compensation over the long-term. In layman’s terms, we want them to be able to do as much as possible without injuring something else. For example, if a patient has osteoarthritis (OA) of their right knee, they will commonly walk on a partially bent knee to avoid further injuring or causing more pain to the joint. The common effect is hip or back pain, particularly with excessive use.


If we can help them move and walk more normally, we can significantly reduce the effects on their entire body. Practicing normal movement in a pain-free environment enables progression to everyday pain-free movement during regular daily activities. Water offers that pain-free environment. Aquatic therapy is an invaluable tool for patients with OA, particularly in the latter stages of the disease. The hydrostatic pressure of a pool provides an effective means of reducing swelling; the 93-degree waters of our Hydroworx pool ease pain and facilitate movement, and the buoyancy of water reduces the effects of gravity. These natural qualities combined with the unique features of the Hydroworx pool - the treadmill, parallel bars, resistance jets, steps, exercise platform, and massage hose - make it the ultimate rehab tool for patients with arthritis.


A warm pool allows arthritic joints to move as if they’ve been lubricated like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Warm water feels great on sore joints and the buoyant properties assist with movement. The beauty of the Hydroworx pool is the ability to walk or jog on a treadmill in this buoyant environment. Instead of experiencing pain every time an arthritic limb makes contact with the ground, the user feels as if they are floating with every step. Chest-deep water unweights the body 80%. That means that a 200 lb individual feels as if they weight 40 lbs.


Decreased pain and increased mobility allow a patient, even with severe arthritis, to endure a vigorous workout without the normal side-effects. Think of the long-term benefits: increased mobility, increased strength, improved cardiovascular endurance, weight loss, and related decreased pain, in addition to improved gait and decreased risk of falls.


Our patients and clients with arthritis can’t live without their regular sessions on the Hydroworx treadmill. For many of them, it’s become a part of their regular routine and they continue with us as cash clients long after their insurance PT benefits are used up. In the current healthcare environment, the Hydroworx pool is an ideal tool for individuals with arthritis.


If you are experiencing arthritis pain you can find Daniel Seidler and WSPT through the betterPT website and betterPT mobile app in addition to hundreds of other quality clinics in your area. Don’t wait for your arthritis to get worse. Book a physical therapy appointment today and get BETTER!



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