Hydrotherapy is simply the use of water for therapeutic purposes. There are a variety of ways that hydrotherapy is used, but some of the most common and powerful uses are to improve immune function, reduce inflammation and pain, and to promote the healing of injuries.

Hydrotherapy is a rather safe method, and many forms of it are great to use with children and pregnant or nursing women. Another advantage of hydrotherapy is that it may be low-cost or free, and is something that a person can do for themselves or family at home.

Common forms of hydrotherapy include: warming socks, heat and cold packs, baths, saunas, and castor oil packs.

Warming socks (also known as healing socks and cold sock treatment) is a favorite hydrotherapy treatment we prescribe. It is a simple and effective, and uses items that most people have on hand at home: water, cotton socks, and wool socks. It is particularly useful during viral infections, such as colds or flus, and also whenever there is congestion in in the head, such as with sore throats, ear aches, or headaches. It helps to pull congestion out of the head to relieve symptoms and to improve the circulation of immune cells, increasing the effectiveness of the immune system.

Hot and cold water, used alternately, help improve blood flow to injured areas of the body. Cold can help to reduce pain and inflammation. Heat increases the blood flow and cellular repair in injured areas. Alternating hot and cold soaks or compresses may be prescribed as a part of treatment for injury.

Baths can be used to resolve muscle tension and strains. Often epsom salt baths are used to reduce muscle soreness after exercise or massage.

Saunas are used to help warm people in the winter, to help with breathing issues, and to promote detoxification through the skin.

Castor oil packs are mainly used by naturopathic doctors to help support the liver and lymphatic system. It is a treatment that is helpful over time and when used consistently. Castor oil is also very helpful when applied externally to reduce inflammation and help with mild musculoskeletal pain. While it does not technically use water, it is usually put under the category of hydrotherapy.

There are other hydrotherapy treatments that can be used, but these are some of the most common that may be used in our office.

Written by Watershed Team

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