The Joint Ventures' Blog

Aquatic Therapy - What's all the splashing about?

Friday, June 30, 2017

I can’t emphasize enough to my patients that they need be proactive with their health - step up to the plate, ask lots of questions, get second opinions, and be curious about all your options.   If you are referred to physical therapy, and you are not successful on land (in the office setting), ask your physical therapist about aquatic physical therapy.  If you want to try it from the beginning of your physical therapy, bring it to your doctor’s attention or on the first day you start physical therapy.  It’s something to keep in mind, and possibly the approach that’s right for you. 

The range of health conditions that can be addressed in the water is never ending.  From musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, the list goes on and on.  Shoulder arthritis to ligament repairs in the knee, neurological degenerative disorders to traumatic injuries can all be treated in the pool.  The environment allows for variety in weight bearing needs, decreases edema, increases circulation, promotes relaxation, and decreases muscle spasms.  Working in aquatic physical therapy, the patient can focus on functional goals for ADLs, returning to work, and getting around in the community.   

I was recently treating a patient for rotator cuff tendinitis when he realized the benefits of aquatic physical therapy.  He had attempted physical therapy earlier in the year in a clinical setting, had the pain under control, but the discomfort returned.   He used to be an avid swimmer, and once he saw the pool he was intrigued by the idea of getting in the water for treatment.  During his evaluation, he revealed a history of low back pain that he had physical therapy for in the past, and was still having pain.  We started physical therapy focusing on his shoulder pain in the water, and his back pain started to decrease.  He returned a couple of months later for physical therapy focusing on his back, and the first place he wanted to start was the pool.  At the completion of treatment for his back pain, he had an independent program to advance his newly acquired core strength and manage his pain. 

Using aquatic physical therapy can assist patients with balance problems, overcoming falls, and prevent future injuries.  If patients with neuropathy are not having success in managing their poor balance on land, they should inquire about aquatic physical therapy.  Patients should ask their primary care physicians or their specialists to find out if aquatic physical therapy would be appropriate.  Often times patients aren’t aware that aquatic physical therapy exists.  It is an option here at Joint Ventures and is often great in combination with land-based treatment. And with our one-on-one treatment model, the aquatic physical therapy can be customized to your exact needs.

By asking more about your options for treatment of an injury or pain, patients should be aware that aquatic physical therapy is a choice.  There are some cases that aquatic physical therapy is not appropriate, but a physical therapist and doctor can help educate and guide a patient to the optimal plan.  Learn to speak up, make a list of questions for your doctor before you go to appointments, and invest in the care of your body.  It’s the best investment you’ll ever make. 

If you have any other questions about aquatic therapy, please contact me at  

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