Taking a Dip – Aquatic Therapy Helps Chronic Pain

Swimming is a sport and activity that millions of people enjoy. Turn up the temperature in the pool so that the water becomes warmer and you have a therapeutic environment for those who have chronic pain.

Aquatic therapy offers people a way to get some exercise as well as find relief from their chronic pain.

Aquatic therapy and water-based exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offers people a way to exercise longer than on land, without having to increase their effort or have joint or muscle pain (1).

They also report that water-based exercise can help those with chronic diseases, including those suffering from arthritis pain. Those having pain from rheumatoid arthritis tend to benefit more from having aquatic therapy than by engaging in other activities.

Exercise in the water has benefits, especially for those suffering from chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, and orthopedic disorders.

The water properties make it an ideal environment that helps to reduce inflammation, provides a safe environment, and addresses balance and strength.

The Arthritis Foundation agrees that aquatic therapy can provide benefits, reporting that it works wonders for those having a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia (2). They cited some of the helpful benefits of the warm water therapy, including reduces the force of gravity that compresses the joints, and it offers total support for sore limbs.  Additionally, they reported it helps decreasing the swelling and increase the circulation.

The get benefits from aquatic therapy is finding a swimming pool that is 10 degrees warmer than the average pool.  Most pools used for aquatic therapy are around 88-92 degrees, keeping the water warm, but not hot. Also, it is important to engage in the activity for at least a 20-minute to get some of the benefits. Many people who do aquatic therapy do it three times per week for around 4minutes each time.

If you’d like to try aquatic therapy to help reduce your chronic pain, start by checking with local senior centres. As well as, workout facilities to see if they offer such classes. You may ask also with physical therapist what facilities they can recommend in your area. Giving it a try may bring chronic pain relief as well as an enjoyable way to get exercise each week.


  1. Water-based exercise. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html
  2. Arthritis Foundation. Warm water works wonders on pain. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/warm-water-therapy.php