RELIEF FROM ARTHRITIS SYMPTOMS
Hot tub health benefits
ARTHRITIS AFFECTS ADULTS AND CHILDREN
According to recent estimates, more than 54 million adults per year in the United States are diagnosed with some form of joint disease.1 Are you among them? While there are over 100 different forms of arthritis, common symptoms include: joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. As you may have experienced, these can be anything from a daily nuisance to a severely debilitating affliction. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of work disability in the United States.2
Sadly, young people are affected too. Nearly 300,000 American children—from infants to teenagers—have some form of arthritis. The most common type is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), which includes various subtypes.3 What can be done to help?
TREATING ARTHRITIS SYMPTOMS
Fortunately, there are many strategies to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life. The first step is learning about the specifics of your disease and considering available treatment options. In addition to dietary changes, medication and physical therapy, general treatment strategies include:
- Hot/cold therapies and massage
- Regular physical activity
- Balancing activity with rest
- Maintaining a healthy weight
HYDROTHERAPY PROMOTES PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
When physical activity is painful, it is easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. While this may avoid pain in the short term, it leads to increased stiffness and worsening pain over time. To overcome this obstacle, millions of people turn to hydrotherapy on a daily or weekly basis. Why so?
Hydrotherapy uses water to relieve discomfort and promote physical well-being. Beyond simply feeling good, it helps the body prepare itself for physical activity, and makes recovery after exertion easier. Rather than being a short term solution, hydrotherapy improves your quality of life over the long term by facilitating a healthier lifestyle.
According to the Arthritis Foundation: “Soaking in warm water… reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offers 360-degree support for sore limbs, can decrease swelling and inflammation and increase circulation.”4 The Mayo Clinic website comments: “Although some children [with juvenile arthritis] respond well to cold packs, most children prefer a hot pack or a hot bath or shower.”5 And among other things, the Hospital for Sick Children recommends: “Do exercises in a hot tub or warm swimming pool.”6
Water temperature in the range of 92 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (33 to 40°C) raises skin temperature and dilates superficial blood vessels to improve circulation. Water surrounding the body acts like a full-body compression suit, encouraging fluid in the extremities to recirculate, which decreases swelling and inflammation. As the body's core temperature increases so does the heart rate, mimicking the effects of mild aerobic exercise. Meanwhile, as the heart pumps blood more efficiently, blood pressure goes down. As an added benefit, the body releases heat shock proteins which trigger cellular protection and modulate the inflammatory response.7 In fact, scientific research shows a promising link between heat shock protein activity and longer lifespan.8
In addition to heat, hot tubs provide hydromassage benefits. Hydromassage involves the use of therapy jets to focus heated water against common points of stress and tension. Variable controls mix air into the water stream to modify the sensation, providing gentle friction or a percussive effect. Many hot tubs feature jets with spinning inserts to create a kneading effect known as “petrissage.” All of these methods combine to relax tight muscles, improve elasticity of muscle tissue and fascia, and evacuate toxins such as lactic acid. During hydrotherapy, gentle stretching and range of motion exercises prepare the body for increased physical activity. And hydrotherapy after physical activity aids recovery. (For a consideration of post-workout hydrotherapy, including contrast water immersion, view this article.)
HYDROTHERAPY PROMOTES RELAXATION
Of course, it is vital to balance activity with rest. Not only to avoid overexertion, but also to manage the mental and emotional stressors that arise each day. In this regard, hydrotherapy provides a wonderful spectrum of relaxation benefits, which is a popular reason to purchase a hot tub.
According to a 2013 Dutch study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 80 patients with rheumatoid arthritis were studied for a period of six months. Researchers paid special attention to daily stressors, relying on each patient’s subjective perception of stress. The study found that “patients who have a tendency for more worrying reported slightly more disease activity, more swollen joints and more pain.”9 While the study recommends further research, these findings illustrate a strong correlation between stress and arthritis symptoms.
When soaking in a hot tub, multiple layers of therapy combine to relieve mental and emotional stress. On top of physical pain relief, the gentle sound of bubbling water combines with peaceful music, supplemented by mood lighting and aromatherapy essences. By engaging all the senses at once, the relaxation experience is heightened all the more.
Of course, owning a hot tub provides a fun and convenient place for couples and families to gather, removed from the distraction of electronic gadgets, video games, social media and television. It’s the perfect oasis for social bonding and lighthearted conversation, fostering improved relationships and emotional well-being.
HYDROTHERAPY PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS
Reduced activity due to physical pain often leads to weight gain. In turn, more weight adds further stress to sore joints and muscles causing more pain, leading to less activity and possibly more weight gain. To break this vicious cycle, millions of people have turned to hydrotherapy.
When soaking in a hot tub or swim spa, the buoyancy of the human body in water naturally relieves the strain of gravity. For reasons already mentioned, heated water triggers a cascade of beneficial activity in the body. And by mimicking the effects of mild aerobic exercise, hydrotherapy helps obese individuals gently transition into exercise on dry land, without overwhelming their body. As an added benefit, the heat shock proteins mentioned earlier have been linked to improved insulin function, a promising benefit for those with type 2 diabetes.10
Of course, diet plays an important role too. Foods which aggravate arthritis symptoms often promote weight gain as well. So following a healthy diet recommended by your healthcare provider can serve to reduce pain, encourage weight loss, and provide more nutritious energy to engage in physical activity. All the while, regular hot tub use promotes better circulation, lower blood pressure, and a brighter, more refreshed sense of well-being. And a better mood will likely help you avoid unhealthy 'comfort foods.'11
HYDROTHERAPY MAKES SENSE
At the end of the day, the simple truth is: hydrotherapy makes sense. For those suffering from arthritis pain and associated health conditions, such as fibromyalgia, it has proven to be just what the doctor ordered. True, the physical processes inside the human body are complex and interconnected. But the benefits of hydrotherapy are straightforward, namely:
- Less pain and inflammation
- Improved flexibility
- Better mood
- More opportunity to stay active over the long term
Given the combination of heat therapy and hydromassage, the social benefits for couples and families, and the convenience of owning your own hot tub, it is not hard to understand why hydrotherapy has become so popular. In fact, therapy benefits rank among the top reasons why people choose Marquis over every other hot tub brand. Our approach to high-flow therapy is so unique you can literally feel the difference. To learn more, contact your local Marquis Dealer to schedule a test soak, and receive answers to your questions about features, options, pricing and installation. The sooner you take action, the sooner you can reclaim your quality of life and start feeling better. Use our Dealer Locator to get started.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Arthritis Statistics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Arthritis Fact Sheet
- American College of Rheumatology: Juvenile Arthritis
- Arthritis Foundation: "Water Works Wonders on Pain"
- Mayo Clinic: Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis Treatment
- The Hospital for Sick Children: Physical Treatments for JIA
- Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: "Heat Shock Proteins and the Inflammatory Response"
- International Journal of Hyperthermia: "Stress Proteins in Aging and Life Span"
- Arthritis Foundation: "Stress and Worry Affect RA"
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "HSP72 Protects Against Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance"
- Frontiers in Psychology: "Mood, Food & Obesity"