So after years of working in physical therapy, I recently became a patient myself. 20 years of yoga practice and 10 years as a massage therapist had gifted me with tendonitis in both wrists. Suffering from chronic wrist pain, I was a little skeptical when my doctor suggested a physical therapist specializing in sports medicine. I just didn’t think there was much they could do for me. 4 months later, I’m stoked to report, I’m primarily pain free!
One of my favorite modalities my physical therapist used was a therapeutic whirlpool. When he first suggested it, visions of my gym’s scary hot-tub filled my head. Luckily he set me straight and introduced me to what would become my new best friend; the therapeutic whirlpool.
Standard Table Top Whirlpool for Physical Therapy
Here’s the low-down on Therapeutic Whirlpool Treatment
The therapeutic whirlpool I used was big enough for me to put my hands in (although they do make them big enough for your entire body) and my pt encouraged me to gently stretch and move while the water was moving. What I loved about it was it was extremely gentle on my wrists, but my range of motion always improved and my pain decreased. And who doesn’t love being able to pretend they’re getting a spa treatment at their physical therapist’s office?
Now what’s cool about the whirlpool is it’s versatile in its use depending on your pt goals, it all comes down to the temperature from the water. Warm water will help increase your circulation, while cold water helps decrease inflammation and swelling. My favorite though was the contrast bath. The contrast bath uses both a warm and cold bath. You spend a minute or two in each bath and switch back and forth for about 20 minutes. Theoretically this creates a “pumping” effect: rapidly opening and closing the arteries, which helps decrease swelling significantly. All I know is I experienced greater range of motion after the contrast bath and was able to then do the physical therapy exercises given to me to rehab my wrist without pain.
I loved the whirlpool so much especially how gentle it was I even recommended it to my sister who suffers from Arthritis. This modality is also great for anyone suffering from a fracture, plantar fasciitis, sprains, and tendonitis or even to treat wounds and scabbing.
So there you have it, the beginning of my love affair with whirlpool therapy. As your physical therapist if they offer it as part of their treatment, because it rocks.