Gently moving your body in the water is an excellent way to improve balance and strengthen weaker muscles while avoiding weight bearing.
Successful recovery from any musculoskeletal condition requires rehabilitation, Aquatic therapy is increasingly used as a method of rehabilitation for musculoskeletal, neurologic and a number of other conditions. RSDS is one of these conditions. Water therapy is an excellent method to use when normal gravity conditions might make rehabilitation difficult. Because the buoyancy of the water helps to suspend us, exercising in the water lessens the blow on our bodies. helps maintain a better balance and supports weaker muscles. The water also supports the painful limb and allows it to be moved both passively and actively. Exercising in the water creates resistance to build muscles. A well thought out aqua program can help a person regain strength and functional movement that enables them to return to work, leisure and daily activities (such as tennis. golf. cooking, dressing and shopping).
The pain and stiffness of RSDS results in severe problems in the muscles, bones and joints of the entire limb. The hypersensitivity and severe pain leads to guarded movement, and therefore one of the main goals is to get the person moving again without causing more pain.
Pain relieving methods are recommended prior to each aquatic therapy session to increase the person's movement in the water. These methods may include modalities (such as ultrasounds, H Wave), nerve blocks, pain coping techniques, and pain medications.
Water temperatures should be also considered. Aquatic therapy is performed in water 82 to 88 degrees F. The slightly higher temperature relaxes the person and facilitates pain management during exercises, Another aspect of aquatherapy is immersion.
Warm water breaks the pain cycle and decreases dysfunction caused by the lack of movement.
Optimum temperature for immersions is between 92-98 degrees F.
Every person has different needs in their aqua program; therefore, your program should be prescribed by a trained professional. preferably your physical or occupational therapist.
Avoiding any increase in pain levels is essential for success.
Exercise priorities for RSDS patients include increased range of motion to the involved joint, mobility to the soft tissues that surround the joint, and weight bearing in the lower extremities. An aquatic program that gradually progresses in intensity and duration will allow the person to increase their movement and function while they learn to manage their pain and dysfunction.
As with all exercise programs, before beginning aquatic therapy it is important to see your physician first.
Care Center Rehab and Pain Management Inc.
Francesca Lindsay, COTA
Bryan Blundell PTA