n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Hydrotherapy and its effects on chronic pain intensity, physical functionality and quality of life in the elderly

Volume 21 Number 4.1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Chronic pain is often associated with impaired muscle strength and limited physical activity and performance, resulting in impaired physical functioning. This study aimed to determine whether voluntary participation in a structured 6-week hydrotherapy exercise programme would improve pain management, functionality and quality of life in an elderly population ( = 22; 77.7 ± 6.6 y)suffering from chronic pain and living in nursing homes in Tshwane. The experimental group (= 13) attended hydrotherapy classes twice a week for six weeks, while the control group ( = 9)did not. Questionnaires were completed (Chronic Pain Grade, Functional Status Index, and the SF 36), and functional testing performed, in both groups at weeks 0, 3 and 6. The experimental group reported reduced pain intensity at week 3 ( = 0.051); reduced pain-induced disability at week 6 ( = 0.080); reduced assisted help required for activities of daily living (ADL) at week 3 ( = 0.040); reduced difficulty on performing ADL at week 3 ( = 0.012) and reduced pain experienced with ADL at week 3 ( = 0.007) and week 6 ( = 0.014). Improvements in upper body strength and agility were demonstrated. Improvements in sub-scales for quality of life were demonstrated at weeks 3 and 6. The control group showed no statistically significant changes in the above parameters. In conclusion, participation in structured hydrotherapy classes has been shown in this small study to be a beneficial intervention strategy for managing chronic pain in the elderly.

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