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Hydrotherapy

Treatment Overview

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat a disease or to maintain health. It was part of a health movement that led to the development of naturopathic medicine.

Hydrotherapy uses various forms of water, such as cold or hot water, ice, or steam. This can be done both inside and outside the body in many ways, including sitz baths, whirlpools, saunas, showers, and colonic irrigation.

Why It Is Used

People use hydrotherapy to treat many illnesses and conditions, including acne; arthritis; colds; depression; headaches; stomach problems; joint, muscle, and nerve problems; sleep disorders; and stress. People also use it for relaxation and to maintain health.

You can also use hydrotherapy to reduce or relieve sudden or long-lasting pain.

Risks

Most hydrotherapy is generally safe if treatment is done properly. Different people may respond differently to the length and intensity of treatment. Some people may have headaches, aches and pains, sleep problems, nausea, chilliness, and faintness.

Hydrotherapy to cleanse the colon, also called colonic irrigation, may cause serious side effects. The harmful effects are more likely in people with a history of colon surgery, gastrointestinal disease, heart disease, hemorrhoids, or kidney disease.

It is important to discuss your physical condition and medical history with your doctor or physical therapist before trying hydrotherapy.

Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.

Credits

Current as of: March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Joan Rigg PT, OCS - Physical Therapy