Sant’ Angelo (2000) The Value of Hydrotherapy in the Rehabilitation of Low Back Pain with Radicular Involvement in the Lower Limbs


The study by Sant’ Angelo (2000) explores hydrotherapy’s efficacy in rehabilitating older adults with low back pain and radicular symptoms. It contrasts land-based exercises with similar routines conducted in a hydrotherapy pool, involving six participants who underwent 8 sessions over a month. The results indicate that hydrotherapy may offer additional benefits in terms of functionality, forward lumbar flexion, and neurological improvements, although no significant differences were found between the two groups statistically. This research underscores hydrotherapy’s potential role in treating low back pain with radicular involvement, suggesting a reevaluation of predominantly land-based rehabilitation approaches.


The predominance of low back pain has led to a massive amount of research examining this multi-faceted condition. A number of researchers have attempted to compare treatments with the aim to validate the best one. That only few studies havetaken the treatment environment into account seems an omission, considering the mechanics and nature of back injuries and the anecdotal benefits of warm water in such cases. This study was designed to examine the value of hydrotherapy in the rehabilitation of low back pain with radicular components. Treatment on land was compared to treatment via a similar regime of exercises in the hydrotherapy pool. 6 subjects were included in the study, each treated individually and none differing from the other significantly. All had been suffering from an average of 2 years before attending for treatment.


Before and after the treatment sessions, subjects were measured for the various components low back pain rehabilitation, namely pain, functionality, lumbar mobility. All subjects attended 8 sessions of 30-45 minutes each, twice weekly over a month. Treatment was progressed according to individual requirements, but was considered to have reached a uniform level throughout both groups by the end of the 4th week. The experimental hydrotherapy group appeared to have benefited more than the control land group in terms of functionality, forward lumbar flexion and neurologically. The opposite was true of lumbar extension and straight leg raises. Pain was considerably alleviated in both treatment environments.

Statistically, no significant difference was found when comparison was made between either group. Significant changes were, however, found when correlating the improvements of both groups with time. This study suggests that the exercise regime adopted was well suited to its purpose of rehabilitating the condition being investigated. It is also suggested that hydrotherapy may play a more significant role with regards to the previously mostly land-oriented treatment of low back pain with radicular involvement in the lower limbs.

Key Words: hydrotherapy, low back pain, radicular involvement

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