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Hydrotherapy Indications and Contraindications

Hydrotherapy is a popular water-based form of injury and rehabilitation therapy. Here at NQ Physio Solutions Townsville, we regularly practice hydrotherapy with several our clients. It is safe and beneficial for most, but before you dive into the pool, we’re going to shed some light on the indications and contraindications of hydrotherapy so that you can consider whether it is the right fit for you.

Principles of Hydrotherapy 

Hydrotherapy, or aquatic therapy, utilises the properties of water for therapeutic benefit. These principles include:


Buoyancy is the upwards force of pressure that brings objects to the surface. When submerged in the water, the buoyant pressure supports your body weight allowing safe and free movement as you exercise. It is advantageous for your joints as the sense of weightlessness can relieve pain, increase your range of function and instil confidence in those who struggle with balance on land.

Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by the water against the body and increases with the depth of the water. This creates a compressive effect on the body that is particularly beneficial for patients suffering from Lymphedema, Oedema, swelling, and fluid retention. 


Refers to the density of the body of water. The denser, or viscose, the water is the harder it is to move through. Water is denser than air and thus makes it more challenging to walk through compared to air on land. This resistance is particularly useful for patients or athletes aiming to improve their strength and maintain their function during rehabilitation exercise.  

Surface Tension

Due to surface tension, it can be challenging for patients to lift a limb out of the water. This phenomenon is due to cohesion which is strongest at the surface of the water. Exercises that require the patient to lift a limb out of the water are more intense and strengthen specific muscle groups. 


The irregular movement of water can aid in recovery. Caused by jets, ourselves, other objects, and people, it challenges a patient’s strength, balance, control and can improve mobility over time.  


Hydrotherapy pools are much warmer than regular swimming pools, kept at a regulated temperature of 33-36 degrees Celsius. The warmth relaxes your muscles, reduces pain and spasms, aids with blood circulation, and can reduce swelling. Not to mention, the warmer temperature can make the water much more enticing for patients to hop in! 

Is Hydrotherapy Right for You?

The indications of hydrotherapy are abundant. It reduces load-bearing on your joints, helps with muscle aches and pain, and is a great stress reliever. Not only is it beneficial for your overall strength and fitness, it can assist with a variety of conditions, including (but not limited to): 

  • Back pain
  • Arthritis (osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis) 
  • Shoulder pain (persistent pain and post-op rehabilitation) 
  • Injuries with weight-bearing or loading restrictions 
  • Sports injuries where cross-training is required to maintain fitness (for example, deep water running)
  • Lymphoedema 
  • Oedema
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Mobility and balance retraining 
  • Chronic pain 
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Pregnancy-related pain (pelvic and back)

Please note that this list is extensive but not conclusive. If you feel you have a condition that could benefit from hydrotherapy that is not listed here, give the NQ Physio Solutions team a call on (07) 4729 0055. We can suggest the best physical therapy solution for you.

Hydrotherapy Contraindications: When Should Hydrotherapy Be Avoided?

Hydrotherapy is accessible, safe, and enjoyable for the most part. However, while it is incredibly beneficial for most, there are contraindications and precautions to consider before entering the pool. Always consult a health care professional such as our team at NQ Physio Solutions before commencing hydrotherapy.

Serious contraindications include: 

  • Infections
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Skin conditions
  • Illness, including common colds and fevers
  • Aquaphobia 
  • Labyrinthitis

Absolute contraindications include:  

  • Incontinence
  • Contagious diseases
  • Severe epilepsy
  • Recent surgery
  • Open wounds
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Tracheotomy
  • Recent chemotherapy

Some patients may be hesitant to commence a hydrotherapy session out of fear or inability to swim. Your therapist will be with you every step of the way and will only encourage you to exercise at a deeper end of the pool when you feel comfortable and only if it is necessary to your recovery.   

Book In for a Hydrotherapy Session Today!

Now that we've outlined hydrotherapy indications and contraindications, it’s time for you to dive into the pool (figuratively speaking, of course)! Hydrotherapy services at NQ Physio Solutions in Townsville are available by appointment. 

If you are ready to embark on a journey to a functioning, pain-free you, give us a call on (07) 4729 0055. Our friendly team of expert physiotherapists will conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history and your current condition. Once you have received the all-clear, we will customise a hydrotherapy program to get you on the road to recovery!

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