Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a widespread musculoskeletal disorder characterized by troublesome symptoms, such as joint and muscle pain of varying intensity, chronic fatigue, sleep difficulty, and mood and memory issues. The statistical data show that the FMS burden is substantial and not less than some other known body conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, hypertension, and diabetes According to the Mayoclinic, remedies for FMS tend to ease pain, reduce debilitating symptoms, and improve quality of life – but currently, no treatment option can cure it.
Doctors and physiotherapists recommend several measures that you can take to reduce FMS symptoms, including stress reduction, relaxation, and exercise. Exercise-related interventions, such as hydrotherapy, are considered one of the primary components in managing fibromyalgia syndrome. Also known as water therapy, it combines the physical properties of water and exercises benefits to provide beneficial effects on quality of life in fibromyalgia syndrome patients. It has been clinically proven to improve FMS symptoms, especially chronic pain, which is considered the syndrome’s hallmark.
How Does Hydrotherapy Help Fibromyalgia?
Exercises under the water, or more commonly known as hydrotherapy, has been used to manage several illnesses, including the common cold, acne, headaches, digestive problems, arthritis, depression, joint and muscle problems, sleep disorders, and neurological problems. The soothing properties of warm water help promote circulation by expanding blood vessels, which can aid with pain reduction and muscle relaxation. Ice-pack hydrotherapy (using cold water) has known to have a reverse effect. It causes constrictions of the blood vessels and help reduce inflammation and swelling by reducing blood flow to the affected muscle/joint.
According to a 2008 review published in Rheumatology International, hydrotherapy is one of the strong candidates for easing and managing FMS symptoms. The researchers run controlled trials on several patients with diagnosed FMS. Most of the participants were women and underwent 15-20 minutes of hydrotherapy sessions per day. The reviewers concluded that patients experienced a reduction in pain and an overall improvement in their quality of life, including less depression and better sleep.
Light exercise without water is also suitable for people with FMS. However, health experts recommend hydrotherapy because water plays a significant role in the process of rehabilitation and reduces the stress on the joints.
What to Expect in the Water?
Rather than swimming, people with fibromyalgia are advised to do standing exercises in the water. Leg lifts, water walking, and stretches are some of the famous hydrotherapy moves. Some experts also recommend ankle weights and flotation devices to adjust the amount of buoyancy.
Water exercises are diverse. Depending on your condition’s severity, the physical therapist or a professional instructor may use a mix of styles or emphasize one approach to suit your needs. The following are some of the common options:
Used for deep relaxation and passive aquatic therapy, this technique blends breathing and special stretches while floating or being held by a practitioner.
It is adapted from land-based tai chi. This technique is a total body relaxation and strengthening progression that emphasizes slow movements, deep breathing, and relaxation.
It is an integrated program that focuses on relearning movement basics to improve daily life. Originally designed for people with back problems, backhab also works great for people with fibromyalgia.
Hydrotherapy is emerging as a safe and more effective treatment option for fibromyalgia than several prescription drugs and surgical interventions. Water-based exercises (hydrotherapy) help lubricate the joints and moisten mucous membranes – reducing inflammation and pain along with improving quality of life.
While you can do these exercises independently, starting with a supervised program or consulting a professional will help you learn the best moves and proper form. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about hydrotherapy treatment today and enjoy the water method to pain-free mobility and living.