If you suffer from arthritis or know someone who does, then you understand how painful and frustrating it can be. Everyday tasks like opening a jar or walking up a few steps can be challenging. You understand that feeling of dread when you anticipate completing a chore or taking part in a fun family activity that you know will be difficult and cause you discomfort. Understanding what is causing your pain and stiffness is one step closer to being able to treat it.
In this article, we take a closer look at what arthritis is, the symptoms of arthritis, various treatment options, and how hot tub hydrotherapy can help.
Types of Arthritis
Simply stated, arthritis is inflammation in one or more joints. It causes stiffness and pain which reduces strength and range of motion. The word arthritis is used as a catch-all term for anything that causes joint swelling and pain, but there are over 100 different types of arthritis. The three most common types are:
- Osteoarthritis – caused by a lack of or deterioration of the cartilage, it affects weight-bearing joints in older adults. It can also be found in anyone of any age who has suffered a joint injury or has a serious weight issue.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – caused by an auto-immune disease, it is believed that the immune system attacks the joints and causes the inflammation and discomfort. It can begin suddenly in any person of any age.
- Psoriatic Arthritis – usually found in men and women between the ages of 30 and 50, it can cause swelling in toes and fingers and create burning itchy patches on the skin.
A specialist will be able to help you determine what type of arthritis you may have.
There are many treatments for arthritis pain and inflammation. Some of them can be done by patients on their own and others require the help of surgeons, therapists, and doctors. Some common treatments include:
Extreme cases of pain or joint deterioration can cause a patient to need to have a joint replaced.
Anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, steroidal, narcotic, and analgesic medications are used to combat pain and swelling.
Non-medical courses of action that patients can implement include Yoga or other exercise and fitness programs, weight loss, exercise, and the use of hot or cold compresses.
Physical therapy which may include stretching and strength exercises, massage therapy, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy have all been used.
Exercise and hydrotherapy have been shown to be highly effective in helping arthritis sufferers.
What is Hydrotherapy?
If you have heard of water aerobics or other pool-based exercise programs, you are on the right track. Hydrotherapy is exercising in water. It is supervised by a trained professional and the water is warmer rather than cooler. The water environment provides benefits that regular exercise does not.
Advantages of Exercising in Water
The properties of the water create a beneficial atmosphere for a body in pain. Why is exercising in water different?
- Water combats the effects of gravity. Buoyancy allows your body to move through water much more freely and easily by taking the pressure off weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, and ankles.
- Even water pressure promotes better circulation. The hydrostatic, or equal, pressure of the water helps to relieve pain by increasing the circulation of blood through the body and by preventing the pooling of blood in the feet and lower legs.
- Water propelled through jets can be used to massage tight or sore muscles. It can also be used to create resistance for exercises, such as walking or running in place, which allows strength to be increased without any extra strain on the joints. Different styles of hot tubs will allow users to experience the soothing massaging jets sitting up or in a reclined position.
- The warmer temperatures relax muscles and encourage easier movement and greater range of motion. Improved blood circulation is another benefit of the warmer water. A swim spa can provide the space needed for exercises such as walking or running in place or even swimming in place.
- Exercise can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety to improve overall mental health. The warm water is an inviting, relaxing environment to let go of physical and mental stress.
Overall, water has a positive influence on health and healing for people who suffer from arthritis.
Who Can Benefit from Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy can help people with general fitness needs as well as treatments for various conditions and injuries, including:
- Back pain
- Pre- or post-surgery or joint replacement
- Joint pain and sprains
- Chronic fatigue
- Conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis
- Balance or coordination issues
It is one of the safest treatments for arthritis and general pain.
Does Hydrotherapy Offer Lifestyle Benefits for Arthritis Sufferers?
Yes! Hydrotherapy has helped many people improve their health. People who have used hydrotherapy experience changes that include:
- Reduction in muscle stiffness and pain – it stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s own feel-good chemicals, which naturally relieve pain and boost happiness.
- Rehabilitation and strengthening of weakened or injured muscles and joints – low and no-impact exercises increase muscle strength without causing reinjury.
- Stronger immune system – improved circulation increases the flow of lymph fluids which attack bacteria in the blood and fight off colds and other illnesses.
- Detoxification – exercise and heat cause sweating which helps to cleanse the body by flushing out toxins and impurities.
- Reduction in stress – blood pressure is reduced and the release of endorphins improves mood.
Hydrotherapy can be a successful long-term strategy for arthritis management.
Are There Proven Ways to Manage Arthritis?
The CDC, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends doing five things to help manage arthritis and other chronic health conditions. It is called the “Strive for Five” program and includes:
- Implementing self-management skills – Your ability to regulate and control your feelings, thoughts, and actions can be a great asset in the fight against chronic pain. Positivity means making a commitment to resist negative thoughts and feelings and remaining optimistic about your treatment options. Self-awareness is realizing the causes of your own behavior and making good choices. Managing stress helps relieve pain and anxiety. Taking control over your health is taking responsibility. Productivity keeps you on the move and feeling a sense of satisfaction from life.
- Being physically active – While being active improves mood and quality of life in addition to relieving pain, it is important to follow your physician’s guidelines about what types of activities are the most beneficial for your arthritis diagnosis.
- Communicating regularly with your health care provider – express your concerns and keep your physician informed of your progress.
- Watching your weight – a weight loss of even 10 to 12 pounds can help relieve pain and improve function for arthritis sufferers. Keeping your weight down will help reduce pressure on joints.
- Protecting against joint injuries – an injury will be even more difficult to heal in a previously inflamed joint. Choose low or no-impact activities and wear protective equipment such as knee and ankle braces. It may also be necessary to use other aids like canes and walkers to promote extra stability.
There are also other lifestyle changes that can aid in the management of arthritis.
Does Diet Play a Role?
When you suffer from chronic inflammation, the last thing you need is something else that triggers it. Food choices can play a part in causing extra irritation and discomfort.
Foods that cause or worsen inflammation include:
- Processed meats – bacon, sausages, and other processed meats contain advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that induce inflammation.
- Foods high in sugar content – high glucose levels can inflame the cells that line blood vessels and cause a risk for decreased circulation and heart disease.
- Fast food – studies have shown a correlation between inflammation and the consumption of fast food which often contains chemical additives.
- Manufactured bread – scientists believe that bread that contains amylopectin, a particular strain of wheat, can cause inflammatory effects.
- Meat from grain-fed animals – the omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation.
- Oils made from vegetables – soybean oil contains high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Refined carbohydrates – because most of the fiber has been removed, they encourage the growth of bacteria in the digestive system.
- Dairy – high in saturated fats, dairy products can also induce inflammation.
- Sodium – produces many ill health effects such as inflammation and high blood pressure.
- Salad dressings – they can also contain omega-6 fatty acids.
- Refined flours – the fiber has been removed just like it has been for refined carbohydrates.
- Artificial additives – some cannot be digested by the body and can provoke immune system responses including inflammation.
- Artificial sweeteners – they can cause the release of cytokines which cause inflammation.
- Partially hydrogenated foods – these contain high amounts of fatty acids and can inflame the linings of blood vessels and inhibit blood circulation.
Many people afflicted with arthritis have reported that some of their dietary choices made their symptoms worse. The good news is that there are foods that help reduce inflammation and improve quality of life.
The Best Foods for People with Arthritis
Not only can these foods help relieve symptoms, but they can also help you achieve overall better health.
- Fatty fish – mackerel, salmon, and trout contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Inflammation can be reduced and so can reliance on anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Garlic – mighty in scent and flavor, it also possesses many health benefits. It produces an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may even strengthen the immune system.
- Ginger – the popular spice has been shown to block the production of inflammation-causing agents in the body.
- Broccoli – one of its components, sulforaphane, is believed to block the formation of a cell that specifically causes Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Walnuts – they are also high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Berries – blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries contain quercetin which blocks some of the inflammation processes associated with arthritis.
- Spinach – its antioxidant kaempferol is thought to help relieve inflammation in RA sufferers and prevent the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Grapes – resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of arthritis.
- Olive oil – contains anti-inflammatory properties.
- Tart cherry juice – the results of one study showed that it decreased symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduced inflammation.
Eating a nutritious diet in combination with other treatments can help you manage your arthritis and safeguard your overall health.
Though there is little scientific support for them, some people swear by the effectiveness of unconventional or alternative treatments. Some that have promising results for arthritis include:
- Acupuncture – a technique used for pain reduction by stimulating the body’s own healing response.
- Glucosamine – according to one study, it significantly reduced knee pain in osteoarthritis sufferers.
- Chondroitin – thought to provide some pain relief but effectiveness has not been proven.
- Tai-chi and Yoga – the slow deliberate movements promote flexibility and improve range of motion.
It may be worth it in the long run to try some of these techniques, but exercise and hydrotherapy have a proven track record of relieving arthritis symptoms.
How Can I Experience the Benefits of Hydrotherapy?
It is always best to seek the advice and approval of your health care provider before you begin any self-care or hydrotherapy routine. Your care provider or physical therapist should be able to provide guidance about things like water temperature and jet pressure. If hydrotherapy at home turns out to be an option for you, consider purchasing your own hot tub or swim spa.
You can choose a hot tub or swim spa, like the ones featured by Champagne Spas that are specifically designed for hydrotherapy. If you are looking for a way to relax and massage stiff muscles, a hot tub may be the best option. As you can see, there are many styles and sizes of hot tubs to choose from but by explaining your needs and expectations, one of our experts can easily guide you toward the right hot tub for you.
If you will need more room for exercise and movement, you might consider getting a swim spa. There are also many styles of swim spas to choose from and our knowledgeable staff members can help you find the perfect one for your needs.
Hydrotherapy may become one of the best weapons in your arsenal of tools for fighting and managing arthritis.
Experience Hydrotherapy with Champagne Spas
Have you already discovered the benefits of hydrotherapy? Are you ready to take the next step? Contact our experts at Champagne Spas. With more than 30 years of experience, we can help you find the right hot tub or swim spa for your needs and budget. Still not sure? Visit our lifestyles blog and read the reviews from some of our happy customers. Let our service experts help you find your ideal spa.