Can Hydrotherapy Help with Joint Inflammation Pain?

For those who suffer from pain caused by over exertion, injury or disease, a hot tub can be a welcome panacea. Most often this pain is a result of inflammation caused by those stressors. So, how is the pain relieved?

How do hot tubs fight inflammation?

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is the body’s response to cellular damage. When cells are damaged by viruses, bacteria, disease, radiation, chemicals or injury, white blood cells are sent to the area to begin repairs. This accumulation of white blood cells can result in swelling, redness, heat build-up and joint pain or stiffness. It can also bring about flu-like symptoms including fatigue, fever, chills, muscle pain and reduced appetite.

Inflammation that lasts for short periods is known as acute inflammation and is often caused by injury or infection. Inflammation that lasts for weeks, months or years is known as chronic inflammation and is often the result of disease.

How Can a Hot Tub Reduce Inflammation?

It’s the hot tub’s hydrotherapeutic abilities that can help mitigate the symptoms of inflammation.

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to help relieve pain. Three prevalent properties of hot tub water, namely heat, massage and buoyancy, are the main reasons that a hot tub can be used to reduce pain caused by inflammation. Below is a list of ways that a hot tub can help fight inflammation.


The massaging abilities of a hot tub are what distinguishes it from a hot bath. Massage feels good because it stimulates the production of pain-relieving and pleasure- inducing hormones.

These hormones block pain receptors and prevent the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Massage also improves blood flow which transports oxygen and nutrients to the affected tissues and washes away waste products. This helps stimulate cellular repair processes and promotes healing.


As the hot tub’s water warms the body, the heart rate and blood circulation are increased. Blood vessels dilate, blood pressure is reduced, and the extremities receive more oxygen and nutrient- rich plasma. Heat also acts as a muscle relaxant that alleviates tension on bones, tendons, ligaments and joints. It also raises the metabolism which generates more energy to help with cellular repair processes.


Buoyancy is the tendency of water to create upward pressure on any force pushing downwards on it. When the body is submerged in water, it experiences a reduced weight because the upward force of water counters the effects of gravity. This reduces friction in the joints and between bones. This reduction in irritation can alleviate pain and allow healing to take place. Buoyancy can also improve mobility and allow exercises to be performed that can help reduce inflammation.


Lack of sleep has long been known to exacerbate inflammation. It diminishes the body’s ability to rehabilitate itself while creating conditions that are conducive to inflammation. Using a hot tub can help improve sleep patterns and allow the body to rest for longer. Getting in and out of the hot water causes temperature changes in the body that replicate changes in temperature associated with Circadian rhythms. Soaking in a hot tub before bedtime has been found to bring about sleep faster and promote a longer, more uninterrupted slumber. This can improve the body’s ability to repair itself and temper the processes that lead to inflammation.