Aquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy or water therapy, has emerged as a valuable and effective treatment approach for patients suffering from osteoarthritis and other types of arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Osteoarthritis, in particular, is the most common form of arthritis and is characterized by the degeneration of joint cartilage over time. Aquatic therapy provides a unique and supportive environment that can significantly benefit arthritis patients, offering pain relief, improved joint function, and overall well-being.

The properties of water play a crucial role in the benefits of aquatic therapy for arthritis patients. The buoyancy of water reduces the effects of gravity, allowing patients to exercise with less impact on their joints and muscles. This low-impact nature is especially beneficial for individuals with arthritis, as it reduces the risk of joint overuse and injury.

Four specific aquatic therapy methods that can be particularly beneficial for patients with arthritis are:

  1. Warm Water Pool Exercise: Warm water pool exercises involve performing a series of gentle movements and stretches in a pool with water temperatures ranging from 32°C to 34°C. The warm water helps relax muscles and increases blood flow to the affected areas, providing pain relief and improving joint flexibility.
  2. Ai Chi: Ai Chi is a form of water-based exercise that combines elements of Tai Chi and Qigong. It involves slow, flowing movements performed in chest-deep water. Ai Chi promotes relaxation, mindfulness, and improved body awareness, making it beneficial for arthritis patients seeking pain relief and enhanced joint function.
  3. Aquatic Resistance Training: Aquatic resistance training utilizes the water’s natural resistance to strengthen muscles and improve joint stability. Arthritis patients often experience muscle weakness and imbalances due to their condition. Aquatic resistance exercises can help them rebuild muscle strength and enhance overall physical function.
  4. Hydrotherapy Pools with Whirlpool Jets: Hydrotherapy pools equipped with whirlpool jets can provide targeted and localized massage therapy for arthritis patients. The gentle agitation of water helps reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and promote relaxation and pain relief in specific areas affected by arthritis.

In addition to the physical benefits, aquatic therapy offers psychological support for arthritis patients. The calming and nurturing environment of water can reduce stress and anxiety commonly associated with chronic pain conditions. The positive sensory experience of being in water can also contribute to a sense of well-being and improve overall mental health for these patients.

Moreover, the group setting of aquatic therapy sessions allows patients to connect with others who share similar experiences. This camaraderie and peer support can be empowering and encouraging for arthritis patients, fostering a sense of community and motivation to engage actively in their rehabilitation.

Aquatic therapy presents a valuable and effective treatment modality for patients suffering from (osteo)arthritis. The specific aquatic therapy methods mentioned, Warm Water Pool Exercise, Ai Chi, Aquatic Resistance Training, and Hydrotherapy Pools with Whirlpool Jets, offer tailored interventions that address the unique needs of individuals with arthritis. By incorporating aquatic therapy into their treatment plans, healthcare professionals can optimize patient outcomes, alleviate discomfort, and enhance the overall well-being of arthritis patients.


Hydrotherapy improves pain and function in older women with knee osteoarthritis: a rondomized controlled trial, by João Marcos Dias, etc. (2017).
Effect of therapeutic aquatic exercise on symptoms and function associated with lower limb osteoarthritis: A systematic review with meta-analysis, by Benjamin Waller, etc. (2014).
Physiotherapist-designed aquatic exercise programme for community-dwelling elders with osteoarthritis of the knee: a Hong Kong pilot study, by Mary CK Lau, etc. (2014).


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