Gently moving your body in the water is an excellent
way to improve balance and strengthen weaker muscles while avoiding
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
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
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
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