Hydrotherapy – heaven or hell? is a discussion that I have often read in other blogger’s pages, online support groups and also physically discussed with other people just like me who live life with chronic pain, hypermobility and chronic illness, within my own support group FibroFlutters.
For me it is something that I am still deciding and am currently embarking on another attempt to see if hydrotherapy will be heaven, or, hell!
My attempts so far have left me thinking that treating my JHS and Fibro via hydrotherapy actually causes confliction between the two meaning they both require differing treatments. My hypermobility got really bad in my knees and hips when I would have thought the improvements to muscle structure and toning would prevent it. I did find hydrotherapy therapeutic for pain… while I was in the pool! A different story once out of the pool, however, I decided that it was because I was so out of shape so I would have to get worse before getting better, which is why I am willing to give it one last attempt.
In the past there have been so many factors getting in the way of me successfully attending every session without having to skip sessions. I don’t mean like skiving school, but rather there would be a medical reason of some sort preventing me from going, or some other reason.
Of course as a woman the most obvious reason of course being mensuration and the fact I couldn’t leave the house for 3 -7 days never mind get into a pool. Then there were the varying skin conditions that I have, which randomly keep flaring one after another. Having varying forms of Psoriatic and Eczema based skin diseases that are difficult to control has been excruciating beyond belief, and also left me susceptible to catching every infection, bug and lurg going. Not a sensible idea to put oneself at risk by getting into a pool. For instance the Hyperkeratotic Psoriatic Eczema which affected my palms and soles caused huge blistering skin on my hands feet and although not infectious in any way to others a danger to myself in case any bacteria were to get within the crevices and into any open wounds.
Images of my hands, feet and fingers
Please note that the yellowing of the skin is where the steroid creams are working on the skin disease.
There were also things beyond my control such as Bank Holidays, the pool being cleaned after contamination, or, the Therapist being sick. None of which I could anticipate occurring. I did have to miss a few sessions due to holidays that were pre booked prior to treatment starting.
Having chronic illnesses always makes things difficult because we can’t control how we’ll be each day so sometimes appointments would be cancelled last minute. I hate doing that!
Okay, that briefly covers the background regarding reasons for missing sessions that made ‘hydrotherapy hell’ because it was like starting all over again just after missing one session. I couldn’t feel or see any beneficial changes other than the suffering incurred as a result of doing the hydro as well as not doing the hydro! Difficult to gauge any progress.
However, ‘Hydrotherapy heaven or hell’ cannot just be judged on the above because it is what happens in the pool, including the before and after parts that are important. Meaning, what effects/affects were there, for instance did you feel more or less pain, did you feel fatigued or energised and how long for? Were there no differences at all? Did any problems arise before, during, or, after your session that affected your abilities?
In my opinion all the factors to be considered are tolerance, strength & stamina, do these improve or not?
Click the following link to find information about hydrotherapy >>>
I value these following questions as being important:
- Why are you having hydrotherapy?
For instance, were you referred by a specialist or GP for a specific reason/health problem? or, maybe you have the treatment privately as part of your personal Pain Management strategy? We each have our own reasons for going and problems we hope to fix or improve.
- What are you intending to gain from your treatment?
Reduce pain, improve muscle tone and structure, reahab after an accident or surgery just to give a few examples.
It is a good idea to know what you are having the treatment for, and, why you are doing it? I find that it makes it easier to succeed. If you don’t understand something your therapist or doctor will be happy to explain it to you.
I am having hydrotherapy after being referred by a pain consultant because I have lost my core muscle structure which is heavily affecting my balance and co-ordination, as well as my physical stamina, strength and my general physical tolerances as a whole.
I have also been referred back to the Pain Management Team. I have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia… among many other things!
I am hoping to slowly rebuild some kind of core muscle structure to help improve my balance and co-ordination.
I really do feel like I will lose my legs, not through paralysis but through muscle wasting away. As someone who was always active the thought of losing the ability to walk because I couldn’t exercise like the norm makes me feel sick to the stomach.
Of course there are umpteen other reasons for me to have hydrotherapy, but there is no point in setting big goals, my experiences have taught me to take things one small step at a time. Setbacks can happen for an abundance of reasons and are not always related to the health problems that you are trying to fix or improve. For example, I have been prevented from entering a hydrotherapy pool for approximately 2 years because of my skin
In the beginning…
… My first hydrotherapy experiences left me feeling dilapidated and fatigued so much that I had barely recovered, physically, before having the next session. However, I was always determined to push through it with the goal of being able to safely walk to my local shop and back. I still have that goal… just now it’s with 2 sticks! It is important to try and keep a positive state of mind and mental health, especially, if you have issues with anxiety, depression or general stress..
It wasn’t just the chronic pain that was a problem but the sliding knees and hips, inflammation and stiffness preventing me from being able to mobilise myself easily, and, not being in fit enough shape physically to stretch things out like I normally would. My normal phrase of “being like a cardboard cutout” changed to “being like a hardboard cutout”! It is easy to overdo it which is what was happening..
What I didn’t feel physically as muscle and / or joint pain, instability and stiffness came through as Fatigue and for 2-3 days I’d be sleeping on and off and unable to get up. Even my brain defied me for a few days, making easy things turn into complex puzzles, rendering me a huge frustration to my hubby-carer when I couldn’t work out if I wanted a cuppa or not, or a bite to eat.
For the next couple of days I’d come round and start to come slowly back to life but still unable to move very well, and in tremendous pain. Pain gel only lasts for so long and medications didn’t seem to help either. The day of the next session I would always be in two minds as to whether to bother or not but I always told myself that even if I only manage 10 minutes in the pool it is better than not turning up at all. Of course my therapist told me that! Nothing is gained without a little bit of effort. The fatigue doesn’t just happen because of the physical exercise but also from constantly trying to remain positive. Mental exhaustion can be just as much of a disability.
I would endure the whole process again each week, as time passed by things did improve little by little, and I noticed my body toning up nicely even though my knees and hips were sliding and the pain was unreal. The pain is never going to go away so I never expected that to happen.
Every time I would feel like I was getting somewhere something would occur, time would pass before I would be back trying again, just like now. As for hydro heaven or hell and regarding it as a treatment for me and my hypermobile wobbly body or not….
…only time will tell.
I am hoping to improve things for myself even if it’s just a tiny bit, it would make my year to be able to stand and not wobble about.
I am going to be charting my hydrotherapy sessions each week this time through keeping a diary of pain. Not just levels but where the pain is felt, what time of day, and, what type of pain. This will hopefully help the hydrotherapist plan my exercises to suit so that I am not at risk of causing myself injury as that would defeat the purpose of the treatment.
I will also be taking notice of whether my tolerances, strength and stamina improve or not? and any problems that I encounter during my sessions. Please keep an eye out for my weekly Hydro Heaven or Hell reports. Part 2 in a few days.
Thanks for reading and please share your stories in the comments box I’d love to hear from you.
Wishing you all wellness and less pain
Further Reading & Places for Information
- Arthritis Research UK – Home Page
- Arthritis Research UK – arthritis information – what is hydrotherapy?
- hydrotherapy.org.uk – hydrotherapy benefits
- South Tees NHS services – physiotherapy > hydrotherapy aquatic therapy
- British Skin Foundation – Home
British Association of Dermatologists Patient Information Leaflets:-
- Patient Info pages for the public: British Association of Dermatologists
- Home Page: The National Eczema Society
- National Eczema Society – Asteatotic Eczema – Asteatotic Eczema/ Craquele
(Updated 7 April 2018)