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does aqua therapy work?

dgardineerddgardineer Posts: 158
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Alternative Treatments
does it really fix anything or is it just putting off the
inevitable SURGERY.


  • :) hi! :H i only have good things to say about water therapy. it is easy on your joints and a painless workout. have a good attitude and go in thinking it will work and you will avoid surgery!! you need to do everything you can to avoid that! if you find it fails atleast you gave it your best shot and can feel more positive in your decision to have surgery. good luck and it is also good for the waistline!! Jenny :)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,726
    Aqua Therapy is so beneficial. I've been using Aqua Therapy for the past 3 years and I owe a lot to that treatment to help me get past some obstacles.
    The theory and facts behind Aqua Therapy are so sound. You can perform mild to medium exercises that put almost zero additional strain on your body.
    Some folks that have seen people doing Aqua Therapy would comment on how simple it appears. Its not until you actually do some of this before you can feel the benefits.
    In the beginning, I almost gave up on Aqua Therapy. I like others just thought it was a simple task, but I never realized on how much it took out of me. For the first two weeks, I almost gave up on it. I called my doctor to tell them it was making me worse and I was planning to stop. Lucky for me, I had a doctor that would not allow me to do that. So after 3 weeks, I started to see the gain.

    Will Aqua Therapy prevent you from having Surgery?

    I dont think that that the water exercise will actually prevent a potential surgery. But in directly, it can do so much help that your body , along with medications and other conservative treatments might correct the situation

    For me, Aqua Therapy should be on the list that EVERY Spinal Patient has in terms of regaining your quality of life.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I understand the benefits of the therapy who can't use a little core strenthening. My thinking is that if i'm gonna need the surgery anyway why not just get it and use the aqua therapy as part of my rehab.I did physical therapy for a month last yr. and that did nothing so i'm a little leary but i'm gonna try it anyway. thanks
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,726
    A lot depends on your insurance coverage.
    I apologize since I do not know WHEN/IF you have surgery scheduled for. As long as you are in pain now, it would make sense to start doing something to make you more comfortable.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hi,

    I don't know what injuries or conditions you have, but my first thoughts go to disc issues when I hear the word surgery. As others have said, I don't think aqua therapy will prevent surgery if there is permenant damage to discs or joints/ligaments, etc. but as far as giving you some help with managing pain and strengthening your core muscles, it has no equal in my book.

    It's low impact and can be soothing (as long as the water temp is not too cold.) I use a facility that keeps the pool at about 98 degrees. Almost like a slightly warm bath. If it were any colder, I think I would have a problem. My issues are muscular and cold water tends to make me tense up too much for it to have any benefit.

    I would highly recommend it as a pain management tool. And if your pain issues cause you to have less mobility than normal, it's a safer, more comfortable form of exercise than standard physical therapy.

    Best of luck. Hope this helps a bit. Take care, Mitzi
  • I haven't talked directly with you in a long time hu? I'm doing so much better now that I'm almost at my 1 year anniversary (Feb.8th) of my 3 level fusion. Boy, it's been hard, rough and one day at a time... And I'm still healing. But definately better.

    My question to you is, I've been thinking alot about water therapy, but keep forgetting to bring it up to my PT. I've really been wanting to do it, I think it would help emmincely with strengthening all those tissues back there, AND my leg muscles (and arms)that have become weaker due to my surgery. (and of course laying around more and not being as active as before) Is this something I should seriously look into?

    We have a local swimming pool up here at our only School, but it's kept really cold due to our swim team. So it would have to be done someplace else. Should I contact my Health care provider and see if they have water therapy somewhere? Thanks
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,726
    benefits in using a therapeutic pool is the water temperature.
    Different states may have different regulations , but here in Connecicut, these pools need to be over 92 degrees and MUST have 1 Therapist and 1 Technician available at all times. If the water temperature is below that, the Therapist and Technician requirement is waived. But believe me, when water temperature goes below 90 when you are doing Aqua Therapy you know about it. Many school or other local pool temperatures are from 78 to 84. Besides having the higher temperature is so much more comfortable, and it important in keeping your muscles warm, so that they do not cramp up. The pool I use, the maximum depth is 4 feet, so you spend most of the time with a portion of your body out of water.
    Call your health care provider and ask where is such a facility. Many YMCA's have similar pools, but from my experiences, its all scheduled time and sometimes that is difficult.

    Good luck, I still swear by my aqua therapy
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • :) hi! :H i have a neighborhood pool down the street from me and can use it all summer long. when winter comes, the water is just to cold and i move to a therapeutic pool alittle bit further away. ~X( during this time i have a doctor's note to use the pool and pay a fee. i would love to swim close to my house year round but the cold water causes too much tension and extra pain in the long run. ~X( good luck in whatever pool you wind up in! Jenny :)
  • Hey Dgardineer!

    I'm in the Lancaster area. Just started water walking. The first day I only had a 1/2 hour and I thought it would be a waste of time. I just walked forward and backwards. It felt like a stupid, useless waste of time. Ha! Until I came out of the water!! As I was walking up the stairs, out of the water, gravity hit me, I was very thankful that I only spent a 1/2 walking. To me, it feels like water walking is enhancing my time spent. Like 30 minutes of walking in water is equal to 60 to 90 minutes out of water.

    I hear and understand your frustration with putting surgery off, I'm in the same boat. Both my L3-L4 and L5-S1 discs were crushed but my insurance would only allow one to be treated at a time. So my neuro did one. Now I have go through the whole healing process and rehab, only to have to do it all over again. It's a waste of my time and insurance money. The insurance company is actually incurring more expense than if they would have allowed the neuro to do both discs at the same time. And my life is on hold. And I live on drugs. Not much of a life.

    Go play in the water, it's doing more than you think.

  • I started doing water therapy and at first i just moved around in the water gently and slowly. However as time passed I got to do more and I find it is really good for me. Any pain usually gets less or goes in the water anyway and my feeling is that it does help me.

    I have not had surgery and have and still am doing everything I can to not have surgery, but a friend of mine had to have back surgery and was advised to do water therapy for several weeks before and after surgery ( under docs orders). In fact she keeps doing it on her own even a year afterwards as it helps her so much.

    Best to have really warm water if possible, I found my public swimming baths too cold so had to join a gym when doing my own sessions. Neurosurgeon wanted me to do 3 -4 times a week inthe pool but the only issue i have is that I have very sensitive skin so i can t go as much as that but doing the other exercises I have as well really helps so I have land and water exercises so to speak!
  • Hi there.
    After I had ACDF surgery I was still left with really bad pain / burning in-between the shoulder blades..

    It was so bad i was unable to do the regular PT that was ordered. The Ortho spine surgeon had me stop the therapy and have a new MRI to make sure nothing was wrong...
    The MRI shoed no disc herniations or fractures and anything other then an already known about hemangioma at T-7.

    I was put on aqua therapy and doing that kind of therapy for a few weeks really made the differnec in the world for me. I was then able to graduatee to regular therapy.

    All the burning was mainly coming from the muscles and knots on the scapular area....although you problems may be different the therapy was very nice...no pressures and easy to do and the best part after the therapy was the jacuzzi,

    If your ready to have surgery, and only you and your doc would know this, and you have to wait for a while to have the surgery you might try doing a bit of the therapy before surgery to see if it will help until you do have the surgery.
    I think the cirrculation that it will give your body will be great as long as your doc thinks your able to do the therapy and it does not aggrivate you!
    Good luck and hope you feel better soon!
  • Just wondering, to those of you who found improvement using water therapy.......did it take quite awhile for you to see any benefits, such as reduced pain and relief from muscles spasms,etc> I was just wondering what kinda time frame you had before you started seeing positives from this. I fully realize that all people are individuals and different, but I was just trying to get an idea. This is all very new to me, so please forgive my "newbie" question. Thanks!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,726

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    Dont not fret, no such thing as a simple or newbie question.
    All questions are handled.
    I've done Aqua therapy for over 3 years now. Initially, it was more of a strain then my Land Physical Therapy was. I figured, what is so difficult about walking in the water, using a few paddles, etc. I almost wanted to stop it.
    After about 3 weeks, I started feeling better doing it.
    It became a routine with me. I felt that I had better flexibility , but other than that, no major improvements.
    But yet the improvements were there.
    - Dropped my cholesterol over 100 points
    - Lost 15 pounds
    - Reduce my Oxycontin daily intake
    I strongly believe in Aqua Therapy.. However, it easy to overdue it. I started to use the paddles more and more and I did too much. That caused some problems for my Thoracic discs. So, now I just concentrate on walking and stretching in the water.
    It does work
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • For me, it is greatly helping me to become more flexible since my surgery. Since I still need an additional surgery, its' hard to say whether it'll allow my to reduce my meds. We'll see about that after the next surgery.
  • HI

    I was told two months ago that I require an anterior fusion at L5 for degenerated disc. I had already had unsuccessful facet joint injections, but still wanted to try anything before surgery. My osteopath recommended aqua exercises which I do four times a week, in addition to physio exercises at home twice a day. I definately felt better inside and out for the exercising, although I have been informed by both osteopath and surgeon that I will still need surgery to stabilise my spine (still get random pain that can appear anywhere in my body due to the problem). What I will say is that in my case, it has helped to strengthen my back which will hopefully make recovery from surgery easier (or so the osteopath and surgeon tell me). The same people also informed me that I have more of a chance of successful surgery by strengthening my back. I don't know if anyone else on here may disagree with that, but it is what I have been told in the past week.
  • I have been going now for about 10 treatments & I hurt so bad afterwards that I end up eating painkillers like tic tacs. I see my ortho Monday & see what he says. I am about 6 1/2 months out from two level 360 fusion on L3-4 & L4-5. I have been in so much pain since surgery that I am at my wits end & wonder how long I can continue? On top of all this my wife filed for divorce about one month ago & we are still living together for now due to my back situation & disability & the fact that while I was out on medical leave for my surgery my employer layed me off. Whats next??

  • Are you in any pain DURING therapy? If so, you need to tell your PT, they have told me every time, if it starts to hurt STOP NOW. They want you to do only as much as you comfortably can. I've been going for 11 sessions now. The last session was the first time I went without any pain killers whatsoever, and it cost me a setback, and shorter session. If you are having problems during or after, you NEED to tell your PT, if they are worth their weight, they will know what to do.

  • Is aqua therapy a particular group of exercises that is standard all around the country? Everyone talks about aqua therapy and I don't really know what it is. Obviously I understand the concept...I just wondered if it meant the same all over -- like the "macKenzie method" or what Pilates used to mean before it got really polluted!
  • I was just thinking the same think gwennie17...I googled aqua therapy in my area & I'm trying to figure out what makes a good one.
  • For me, Aqua therapy involves:
    1. walking back and forth for 3 minutes
    2. Walking sideways back and forth for 3 minutes
    3. Leaning forward/backward very slightly but quickly, thirty times
    4. with legs together, bend knees slightly and straighten 30 times (these last 2 are ballet-type moves, can't remember what they're called)
    5. lean slightly right, holding onto edge and lifting leg as far as I can without causing pain, 30 times each side.
    6. "marching" (exaggerating leg lift) back and forth for 3 minutes.
    7. In sort of a runners "start" position (one leg in front of the other), move arms in swinging motion through water, 30 times each leg forward.
    8. Bend knees and swish arms back and forth through water ant ninety degree angle to my body.

    All of these are done with a small current running in the water, so I must use my stomach muscles to hold myself up. They have also added extra movements to what I already do recently, plus have me holding hand-fins. The therapy pool can be used for many other things, including swimming (with a current running fast enough, you can swim at any speed but stay in one place.

    As for standards, I'm sure there are some standards, depending on what you are seeing them for.

    Hope this helps a bit :p

  • It put me in such pain, I could barely walk the next day. They told me that it doesn't work for everyone. I did aqua therapy before my surgry, and didn't have a problem. I also have been having bad muscle spasms at night, since I started the aqua therapy. When I went Wednesday, they told me that I will start land therapy, since the aqua was hurting me. I just hope that the land therapy helps me. I do really good as long as I am up moving around. Its at night when I go to bed or sit too long that I have problems with pain and muscle spasms. Is this normal? This is all still new to me, and I don't know whats normal or not.

    Spondy, L5/S1, 10 hour surgry on 1/29/09. Bolt thru S1/L5, Rods and screws, bone graph. Two fractures that were a surprise when they did the surgry. Which is why it took
    so long. It changed the whole surgry. Cat scan in March showed new bone growth. So am still praying and keeping my fingers crossed that everything is doing good. Also cat scan showed that one of the screws is rubbing on my nerves on the right side.
  • I have had similar problems at night, so I feel you. Could the screws rubbing on your nerves be causing this? (your cat was done laying down, so maybe it's only happening when you lay down?) I'm hoping it's something as simple as that for me, and they can just remove the hardware once fusion takes place.

    Good luck with your land therapy, I hope it works for you!

  • I certainly hope it works or atleast helps to get me more fit and to lose weight. I am going to be starting this in 2 weeks. I am excited about exercising in water to build my strength as it hurts too much to do on land.
  • Thanks for the description, Kat.
  • I had a 360 fusion and discectomy Feb. 24th
    I started the aqua therapy at the very end of March.
    I go 3 times a week for 30 minutes. It feels great
    to me plus it is the best way I can get walking in
    and my therapist is great. This is just my experience
    but I think it is fabulous. I had an evaluation yesterday
    and I was some stronger. I was so weak when we began.
    Good luck, this is only my opinion though.
  • I did 8 weeks of aqua therapy after my surgery. At first, I had increased pain after each session (I went 3 times a week for 1 hour sessions). When that was the case my therapist would modify my routine slightly. This is really important!! My PT said that too often people don't tell her that they were sore later that day or the next - but instead just stop coming. (It was a surprise to me that I hurt afterwards because everything was so easy to do in the water that I felt like I was not doing much.) Then, after the first 2 or 3 weeks I realized how much better I felt when I left the pool than I did when I got there - and I could do more and more of the exercises without pain the next day. I hated having the 8 weeks end.

    I think there are some fairly standard exercises - much like described above. I also used water weights and paddles to increase resistance for upper body. My exercises - with the except of about 5 minutes of just arm exercises were all done while walking - lunges, squats, etc. etc back and forth across the pool. Some with weights.

    I only wish I could have continued with it - I can really tell that my trunk muscles are not as strong now as they were when I completed the aqua therapy.

  • Aquatic therapy is very beneficial for many types of injuries and conditions. The buoyancy of the water helps to support body weight - which decreases the stress on the joints. This is beneficial for those with osteoarthritis, obesity, healing fractures and post-surgery (those who cannot fully bear weight through their lower extremities).

    The viscosity of the water provides good resistance while performing the exercises - allowing muscle strengthening and endurance training.

    The hydrostatic pressure of the water on the joints may help decrease swelling and improve balance and coordination. It also helps to reduce hypertension (high blood pressure).

    If performed in warm water, it can help increase blood flow to the extremities and relax muscles.

    Cardiovascular function can be improved with aerobic exercises: walking, side-stepping, jogging, treading water, jumping, swimming, kicking, etc.

    Not to mention, aquatic therapy is often performed in a group setting and therefore provides recreation and socialization, increased self-esteem and awareness.

    Pain is typically not experienced during or afterward. This exercise is recommended as an alternate to otherwise painful exercises and activities. Muscle soreness may occur as does with any physical activity. If you do experience any pain during or after the aquatic therapy, stop and tell your therapist or instructor immediately.
  • I've always been a firm believer in trying alternative treatment before resorting to surgery. Why not, right? Surgery isn't guaranteed- why risk being in more pain?

    I can empathize with your situation though- when you're in that much pain, you'll do just about anything to take care of it.

    I had a knee ailment that was caused by a disc shift in my back. After regular visits to the chiropractor (which did help greatly), my next move was to try water therapy. I highly recommend trying it.

    Depending on your financial situation, you may want to consider getting a hydrotherapy hot tub. I got the Amore Bay from Dimension One Spas (d1spas.com). I feel like it was designed for people with joint and back injuries. The seats perfectly contour to your spine, which allows you to completely relax- and it soothes the pain.

    You could also do low impact exercises in them. I think they came out with a hot tub that is designed for this too...

    I hope that helps. Take good care!
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