List of Whirlpool Therapy Benefits
Hydrotherapy is one of the first physical therapy modalities created and used in rehabilitation. There are many ways to treat using hydrotherapy, including the ever popular whirlpool therapy.
Whirlpool therapy tubs are a great way to achieve hydrotherapy’s benefits in both a clinical and home setting. The benefits of using a whirlpool therapy bath are so extensive and powerful, we decided to create a detailed list.
Benefits of Whirlpool Therapy Tubs in Physical Therapy
- Pain Relief: Whether acute or chronic, whirlpool therapy is great for reducing pain for myriad patient issues. A study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science detailed the positive use of whirlpool therapy in reducing both pain and stiffness while at the same time increase range of motion for patients with knee osteoarthritis.
- Reduce Inflammation: With adjust water temperatures for contrast therapy or using cold water, whirlpools are beneficial in improving swelling and inflammation for acute injuries like sprains or chronic injuries like arthritis. A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training found that whirlpool therapy helped reduce inflammation and in turn reduced the onset of muscle soreness post physical activity. This is significant for rehabilitation because therapeutic exercise is an important component of treatment. Using whirlpool therapy at the end of a treatment can help reduce any subsequent muscle soreness and/or inflammation.
- Improve Range of Motion: Range of motion plays a large role in returning patients to full function. Heated whirlpool therapy is a great way to gently improve range of motion. The Johns Hopkins Arthritis center encourages the use of whirlpool therapy both in rehabilitation and at home for arthritis sufferers as a way to improve range of motion. Whirlpool therapy is more beneficial for improving range of motion over a manual technique like joint mobilization because it is gentler on the joints and is less likely to cause additional pain.
- Wound Care: One of the first uses for whirlpool therapy was for wound care. The Journal of the American College of Clinical Wound Specialists details the use of whirlpool therapy for wound care. Whirlpool therapy for wound care provides many benefits
- Removes necrotic tissues
- Aids in tissue debridement following a burn
- Helps clean the wound
- Facilitates tissue repair
- Increases local circulation
- Improves healing
- Diverse Issues: Whirlpool therapy is gentle, non-invasive, but has powerful therapeutic benefits. Because of these qualities, whirlpool therapy can be used for many patient issues including:
- Arthritis (Rheumatoid & Osteoarthritis)
- Sprains & Strains
- Tennis Elbow
- Carpal Tunnel
Each of these issues come with a number of symptoms. The benefits of using whirlpool therapy in the treatment of these issues is that it can address a number of these issues, for example reducing pain and swelling, with one modality in one treatment.
6. Science Approved: We’ve detailed several studies that have proven the positive therapeutic effects of whirlpool therapy. Hydrotherapy is one of the oldest treatment modalities in rehabilitation. According to the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, hydrotherapy not only helps reduce pain and swelling, but also positively improves the following body systems:
- Cardiovascular: Cold whirlpool therapy creates a vasodilation effect which aids the deeper vascular system.
- Respiratory: Cool or cold water whirlpool therapy (up to shoulder height) can either improve oxygen consumption or reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
- Nervous: Immersions in whirlpool therapy can help calm the nervous system and cold water immersion specifically reduces anxiety and parasympathetic nerve activity (fight or flight response).
- Musculoskeletal: Warm water whirlpool therapy can reduce muscle soreness, spasms and reduce feelings of fatigue. By reducing these symptoms, recovery is accelerated.
- Genito-Urinary System: Cool or cold water whirlpool therapy greatly benefits perineal pain and swelling in post-partum women.
7. Complimentary Modality: Whirlpool therapy tubs work well with other modalities in rehabilitation. Let’s look at a case study to see how whirlpool therapy can support other modalities.
Whirlpool Therapy Case Study: A 45-year-old man complains of chronic back pain. He works at a desk for 45+hrs/week and is sedentary at home. Core conditioning is recommended but difficult due to pain levels. Cold compression therapy is advised to be used at the beginning of treatments to reduce acute pain, followed by therapeutic exercise designed to gradually rebuild core strength. Warm water whirlpool therapy is recommended for the end of treatments in order to reduce any residual pain before going home.
8. Alternative Pain Relief: We are in the middle of an opioid crisis. It is estimated 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide. Opioids can cause multiple problems with extended use including:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal distention and bloating.
- Liver damage (especially prevalent in abuse of drugs that combine opiates with acetaminophen).
- Brain damage due to hypoxia, resulting from respiratory depression.
- Development of tolerance.
Whirlpool therapy offers patients an alternative form of pain relief without the risk of harmful side effects.
9. Improved Recovery time: With the ability to facilitate tissue healing, reduce muscle soreness and spasms, whirlpool therapy is able to cut down on recovery time for most patients. This is significant not only for patients with injuries, but those with chronic issues too, because whirlpool therapy can help them return to their baseline function faster.
10. Superior Care: When people think of whirlpool therapy, they generally think of sports therapy clinics. However, offering whirlpool therapy gives all clients the most effective rehabilitation modality available. Innovations have made it possible to have mobile or stationary units, with various styles available to suit every clinic’s needs.
There are a number of different types of whirlpool therapy tubs available including:
- Table-top whirlpools
- Extremity whirlpools
- Full-body whirlpools
- Podiatry whirlpools
- Eco-conscious whirlpools
- Pediatric and/or Geriatric Whirlpools
With the benefits we’ve outlined, it’s easy to see why whirlpool therapy is an outstanding modality to use in rehabilitation. With the diversity in whirlpool therapy tubs available, it’s easy to find the perfect tub to suit both the clinic and patient’s needs.
Related Article: Whitehall Whirlpool Therapy Tub Buying Guide
For more information about popular physical therapy modalities and how they're use checkout ProHealthcareProducts.com.