Aquatic physiotherapy for knee osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that usually presents with joint stiffness and pain during weight bearing activities i.e. walking, running, stepping.
Rehabilitation in the water offers offloading of the affected tissues that results to pain relief and easier movement. Rehabilitation in the water is much different than simply exercising in a swimming pool: is realised in a warm purpose built pool where the water properties i.e. buoyancy, water resistance, and hydrostatic pressure are utilised to produce an individualised therapeutic program.
Clinical experience also shows that the water affects the patient's mood and confidence as it is more fun than land based rehabilitation and offers more freedom of movement.
Aquatic therapy can be advised for younger population and more elderly accommodating each person's needs and treatment goals. For example for a younger individual high stepping, vigorous running in different directions, jumping might be appropriate. For older individuals a gentler approach might be appropriate that includes walking forwards/backwards, doing controlled knee bending against floating devices etc.
In any case hydrotherapy is a form of treatment that should be carried out only by appropriately qualified health care professionals after careful consideration of the patient's current presentation and past medical history.