Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy and also called water cure,is a part of medicine and alternative medicine, in particular of naturopathy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. The term encompasses a broad range of approaches and therapeutic methods that take advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.
Hydrotherapy is used as an adjunct to therapy, including in nursing, where its use is now long established. It continues to be widely used for burn treatment,although shower-based hydrotherapy techniques have been increasingly used in preference to full-immersion methods, partly for the ease of cleaning the equipment and reducing infections due to contamination. When removal of tissue is necessary for the treatment of wounds, hydrotherapy which performs selective mechanical debridement debasement an be used. Examples of this include directed wound irrigation and therapeutic irrigation.
Practitioners of hydrotherapy may seek use it to produce vasodilation and vasoconstriction. These cause changes in blood flow and associated metabolic functions, via physiological mechanisms, including those of thermoregulation, that are these days fairly well understood, and which underpin the contemporary use of hydrotherapy.
Deep water running and pool-based fitness programs are available and can be a valuable cross-training strategy for ambitious and elite athletes who are keen to maintain the highest levels of fitness throughout their recovery.