What Is a Therapeutic Tub?

Sandra Koehler

The technique of using a therapeutic tub for the treatment of injuries and health conditions, and the restoration of overall health, has been used for centuries. From headaches and general stress issues to the treatment of burns and fevers to the release of muscle spasms, the therapeutic tub has been a valuable tool to aid the body in the healing process. The key stems from applying the appropriate temperature according to the desired outcome.

Therapeutic tubs have been used to treat headaches and general stress issues.
Therapeutic tubs have been used to treat headaches and general stress issues.

Though inflammation is a necessary component of the healing process, commonly seen when the body sustains some type of injury, the pain and swelling can often impede the progression of returning to normal functional mobility, or the ability of the affected area to work as usual. This, too, is a mechanism to prevent further injury, but too much swelling can apply an excessive amount of stress on the internal structures of the body, such as the nerves. Pressure of nerves cause more pain and possibly decrease sensation or the ability of the brain to communicate to the area, thus intensifying disability. Sitting in a cold therapeutic tub can often ease discomfort and manage swelling.

Whirlpool tubs offer some of the same benefits as therapeutic tubs, including jet massages.
Whirlpool tubs offer some of the same benefits as therapeutic tubs, including jet massages.

A tepid or lukewarm temperature in a therapeutic tub is an excellent way to help the overall body temperature decrease when high fever is involved. This temperature is also a way to help victims of cold exposure by slowly allowing the body temperature to return to normal. Extreme care, however, must be taken with instances of frostbite where the nerve endings may be damaged thus impairing sensation.

Hot temperatures in a therapeutic tub, on the other hand, are beneficial when stress and tightness or spasms of the muscles are present to elicit relaxation, thus releasing the pressure muscular tension puts on the internal structures causing movement dysfunction. Warmer temperatures also increase circulation which aids in healing as it increases the amount of blood and nutrients rushing to the injured area. Alternating hot and cold water is thought to be beneficial in boosting immunity and circulation, thus aiding the healing process.

The benefits of a therapeutic tub,otherwise called hydrotherapy, however, go beyond setting the correct temperature. Adding agitation, as seen in a whirlpool or Jacuzzi type tub, has the ability to cleanse wounds and exfoliate dead skin cells, an important part of aiding those suffering from burns or bed sores. This also has a relaxation benefit as it has the ability to massage the muscles, thus releasing stress and tension.

Hot tubs can help with physical therapy.
Hot tubs can help with physical therapy.

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