Two views of hydrotherapy

By Madeleine Speed

Hydrotherapy is a little like having physiotherapy in a pool, not a typical swimming pool but a specialist one where the temperature, movement and pressure jets can be controlled and altered to suit the needs of a particular person or persons using the pool. It’s a whole-body treatment that uses the water and movement of water for its therapeutic benefits.

Being immersed and buoyed up in the water can feel very comforting at any time but it has a particular value as a way of gently moving and exercising the body as a means of bringing relief for physical problems (and sometimes for emotional issues). The water can be used to relax muscles, relieve back pain and reduce stress. It is also useful to combat poor circulation, muscle pain and inflammation and is often used help to restore muscle or ligament problems. It is sometimes used to help healing after a hip or joint replacement. Athletes are often encouraged to use pools to improve their levels of fitness or to help soothe injuries ahead of a new season of competing.

We know that some women have been offered hydrotherapy to help relieve the pain of PGP. Here are the views of two women who have been offered and took hydrotherapy treatments to help bring relief from PGP. These are their contrasting opinions of hydrotherapy as a treatment for PGP.

“I hated going to the weekly hydrotherapy session. It was a big class and no-one introduced me or told me whether the group all had PGP symptoms or not. I think we were a mix of different ailments as there were several elderly women, too. It was about 40 minutes long and we had a mix of movements to do in the pool plus at the end there were waves of differing pressure which I assume were to build up your muscles and help you to gain strength by keeping your balance. Frankly, I thought I was dumped in the class because the physio team didn’t know what to do with me. I had been round on two sets of six treatment sessions of ordinary physiotherapy and nothing seemed to be improving my PGP symptoms. I didn’t have manual therapy the first time and didn’t improve at all – I couldn’t walk. The second time, there was some improvement but it never used to last and I just wasn’t making progress. I think they gave me hydrotherapy in desperation to see if it would work. It didn’t help at all but I eventually went for private physio and over a couple of years, I have got completely better – save for the odd problem now and again.” Nicky

And a contrasting view…

“I loved hydrotherapy and met a lot of women, some of whom had PGP and they became good friends so we encouraged one another. It wasn’t a big group and for the last half hour we had one-to-one help with a physio which I think was very helpful – geared to our specific needs. Now I was having manual therapy from another member of the team for my PGP and I think that the hydro worked best for me to help build up my muscles once my pelvis was realigned and my sore pelvic joints were worked on and released. In other words, I think it was so good because it was helping me to get strong, find some pain relief and to keep my pelvis aligned; the hydrotherapy couldn’t have aligned me or sorted out my pelvic joints on its own. So the treatment complemented the manual therapy. I think it certainly contributed to my progress overall and a sense of wellbeing.” Rachel

The Pelvic Partnership team believe that manual therapy from an experienced physio, osteopath or chiropractor is necessary to free stiff or stuck pelvic joints and get the joints moving normally again. We think that hydrotherapy sessions might help to relieve the symptoms of pain and help to stimulate muscles and gain core strength but in itself, hydrotherapy won’t address the underlying cause of PGP, whereas good manual therapy should make an impact within a short number of sessions. So if you are offered hydrotherapy for your PGP, it is worth making sure that this treatment is in addition to manual therapy (and certainly not instead of having manual therapy).

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The Pelvic Partnership consists of volunteers who have had pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and wish to support other women. We aim to pass on information based on both research and the experience of other women with PGP. We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice and the information we provide should not take the place of advice and guidance from your own health-care providers. Material on this site is provided for information and support purposes only.

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