The term hydrotherapy summarizes all healing treatments related to water. The healing effect is based either on the specific mineral composition of the water or on the temperature differences during use. Water is an extremely versatile remedy as the elixir of life.

What is hydrotherapy?

The term hydrotherapy summarizes all healing treatments related to water.

In modern times, Vincenz Prießnitz and pastor Sebastian Kneipp are considered the best known representatives of hydrotherapy. Countless water therapy applications are known worldwide, whose implementation and impact are always influenced by the respective culture.

Water therapy serves to strengthen the body's own unspecific immune defense and to stimulate the circulation. In addition to these two main effects but many other beneficial and health-promoting properties of hydrotherapy are known. Hydrotherapy not only uses water in liquid form but also solid and vapor in the other two states of aggregation.

The Romans built amazingly generous bathing landscapes, because even then it was believed that water has a healing effect. The true father of hydrotherapy is the Roman honorary citizen Antonius Musa, who treated the then reigning Emperor Augustus with cold baths around 25 BC. This special form of hydrotherapy is also referred to as balneology and continues to play an important role in the application of water for therapeutic purposes. Kneipp supplemented his water treatment methods with the addition of medicinal herbs. The term hydrotherapy refers exclusively to the external application of water. The oral intake of water, for example in the context of drinking cures, is not referred to as hydrotherapy.

Function, effect & goals

The use of water for therapeutic purposes is extremely diverse. Above all, cold water has a generally invigorating, anti-inflammatory effect and promotes blood circulation in the internal organs. Hot and hot water in particular promotes the circulation of the skin and skeletal muscles and has a balancing and relaxing effect. Hydrotherapy has effects on physique and psyche and can be combined very well with other therapies, whereby the therapeutic effect can be further increased.

Improving blood circulation stimulates lymphatic flow, and it is also believed that body cells are better supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Hydrotherapy can be used for wellness or therapy purposes. In prophylaxis, joint-sparing hydrotherapy focuses on the prevention and treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders. Aquatraining is becoming increasingly popular as water aerobics and can be used as a prescription by the spa doctor to prevent the progression of degenerative joint diseases.

While the so-called Kneipp cure is therefore only part of a wellness offer, the statutory health insurance companies pay the costs for a hydrotherapy under certain conditions as part of a medically necessary therapy. There are always several units of therapy over a longer period required to achieve the desired effects of relief and healing. Particularly in geriatrics and rehabilitation, the therapeutic results of hydrotherapy are absolutely convincing.

Simple water applications can also be carried out easily on your own home. A hydrotherapeutic treatment attempt is particularly promising for circulatory disorders, respiratory complaints, fatigue, vascular headache, circulatory problems and immune deficiency. Many complaints and ailments of the entire musculoskeletal system also respond well to hydrotherapy. Particularly convincing and sustainable therapy results have been achieved in arthritis, osteoarthritis and joint and muscle pain.

Today's common, proven and typical forms of application of hydrotherapy are, for example, pressure jet applications, Kneipp's water sprays, steam saunas, wraps, baths, treads, brush massages, full body washes and alternating showers. In order to treat the entire organism, it may be useful to integrate hydrotherapy into a higher-level therapy concept. Along with proper nutrition, relaxation techniques and exercise, hydrotherapy captures and treats a patient throughout his body-mind-soul unity.

All of the above-mentioned forms of hydrotherapy should first be tried out and carried out under the expert guidance of a doctor or medical hydrotherapist. Only then does the implementation take place on its own, if no assistance of a second person is required. Especially with cold casts, it is always necessary to start at the extremities before the water jet slowly migrates to the middle of the body.

Risks, side effects & dangers

Despite the convincing effects, the few known side effects and the ease of implementation, hydrotherapy is nevertheless not recommended for everyone. In case of doubt in the presence of certain acute and chronic diseases, the doctor should always be consulted before using water.

For example, anyone who suffers from an acute influenza infection, skin inflammation, varicose veins or certain cardiovascular diseases should refrain from any form of hydrotherapy, at least until the symptoms have subsided. Treatment complications are rare in all hydrotherapy applications. When serious complications occur, these are usually directly related to overloading the cardiovascular system or breathing.

Patients with liver, kidney or thyroid disorders should only administer water treatments under medical supervision. Today, hydrotherapy often uses bath products, essential oils or herbal mixtures, which are not well tolerated by some patients and can lead to allergic reactions. Another danger potential arises from the often tiring and sedating effect of certain forms of water application. These circulatory phenomena may still be present hours to days after hydrotherapy. As a precautionary measure, sensitive persons should not operate machines or vehicles after heat hydrotherapy.

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