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Aquatic Therapy’s Long-Term Benefits To Chronic Pain Sufferers Include Weight Loss, Motor Independence [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 25, 2017 09:16 AM EDT

Aquatic therapy is a delight for people with chronic pain from orthopedic and neurological disorders. In Minneapolis, physical therapists are seeing more and more clients participating in this unique form of physical therapy.

The procedure puts patients in a swimming pool that's usually 10 degrees warmer than the average pool water, the CBS Local reported. The pools are heated to 88 to 92 degrees, which equates to the surface temperature of people's skin. The warm temperature soothes and calms the aching body.

A patient who suffered chronic shoulder pain for 20 years was doubtful over aquatic therapy at first, thinking that the pool's chlorine would only make her skin itchy and uncomfortable. She doesn't get how exercising in a pool would make her feel better, but she eventually relented and found that the procedure relaxes and energizes her. Now, she goes into therapy at least once a week.

The therapy uses the unique characteristics (buoyancy, warmth, resistance and hydrostatic pressure) of water to help patients. The procedure best works on people who feel pain, weakness, swelling, changes in muscle tone and impairments in walking, sitting and standing balance. These conditions may be symptoms of cancer and orthopedic, medical and neurological disorders, TIRR Memorial Hermann listed.

Undergoing aquatic therapy can result in better balance, improved strength, pain reduction, and independence with gait and transfers. The therapy also boosts a person's flexibility and tolerance to sitting and standing.

The therapy has long-term effects. Women with mild knee osteoarthritis, for instance, saw lower body fat mass and faster walking speed after undergoing an intensive program for four months.

On the other hand, the state of New York is now listing chronic pain as a recipient of medical marijuana treatment. The prescription for painful ailments such as arthritis and back pain became available last week, USA Today's Press & Sun-Bulletin reported.

New York has almost 900 health care professionals authorized to prescribe medical marijuana. Patients have to get certifications from their doctors to get the drug at one of the state's 20 dispensaries. Their pain should be severe (lasting three months and more) and incapacitates them from proper functioning. Also, the patients should have tried other medical procedures -- albeit unsuccessful.

Other medical conditions qualified for medical marijuana are cancer, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal damage, Huntington's disease, neuropathies, Lou Gehrig's disease and inflammatory bowel disease. New York's medical marijuana program began last year.

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