Allied Health Care Professions: Hydrotherapy

What is the definition of the practice?

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat a disease or to maintain health. The theory behind it is that water has many properties that give it the ability to heal: Water can store and carry heat and energy. Water can dissolve other substances, such as minerals and salts.

Cooling or heating the body encourages blood flow either towards the organs or out to the skin aiding in elimination of toxins. By alternating the temperatures, elimination through sweating and circulation is increased. Hydrotherapy also aids, in rehabilitation, the musculoskeletal system by using the buoyancy of water to provide support for joints following surgery or injury.

Colonic irrigation is also considered a form of hydrotherapy.

What modalities does this practice involve?

Irrigation – colonic and also eye and ear irrigation.

Thermal therapy – heated pools, saunas and steam baths, hot compresses, cold compresses, cold baths

Herbs – used in rinses, compresses, steam baths, localised baths as in for an eye or for an infection or wound, orally infusions. Some common herbs used are scouring rush tea, alum and hay flowers.

Full and half baths – involves the patient to submerge part or all of their body in cold water for a short period of time, wrapping themselves in a sheet whilst still wet and tucking themselves into a warm  bed, allowing their body to warm itself up. This is more of a home remedy.

Joint mobilisation – exercises designed to be performed in the pool

In what instances might you see this practitioner?

In the case of a musculoskeletal injury or following re-constructive surgery of a joint that would benefit from the combined resistance and support to the water provides as well as the added benefit of heat. This would also benefit those suffering from rheumatoid or osteo-arthritis, general joint and muscular pain.

Who in Mildura does Hydrotherapy?

Callahan Physiotherapy




  1. Harris, P., Nagy S., Vardaxis N., 2006, Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions, Elsevier Australia, NSW, Australia
  2. Keller J, 1968, Healing with water, universal Publishing and Distributing co, New York
  3. Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre Melbourne: Beleura n.d viewed 2 August, 2011<>

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