Physical Medicine & Hydrotherapy
Naturopathic doctors are trained in a variety of physical medicine techniques, which may be used during patient visits, and recommended as part of a home health care routine. Physical medicine therapies include the following:
- Naturopathic manipulation (mobilization of muscles, bones and joints).
- Exercises for strength and conditioning.
- Stretching techniques.
- Craniosacral therapy.
- Constitutional hydrotherapy (hot and cold topical treatment).
- Contrast hydrotherapy (alternating hot and cold treatment).
- Balneotherapy (therapeutic baths – hyperthermia baths, peat baths, essential oil baths, etc.).
- Body wraps.
- Neti pot and other types of sinus rinse.
- Topical applications of herbs or oils, such as castor oil packs.
- Sauna therapy.
- Colonic irrigation (high enemas).
- Physiotherapy (therapeutic ultrasound, diathermy, microcurrent, interferential, galvanism, TENS, cold laser, infrared and iontophoresis treatments).
These techniques can be effective for the treatment of musculoskeletal problems, as well as for supporting overall health and vitality. Several of these physical medicine modalities are also useful in the process of detoxification (see detox article) to encourage proper immune function, enhance circulation, and stimulate proper digestion.
For example, hydrotherapy (also known as water therapy) modalities are often employed to improve circulation and bring nutrients to specific body parts and vital organs. In turn, inflammation and swelling decrease, pain diminishes, tissues heal, and the body thrives.
Electrical currents, sound waves, herbs, oils, or physical touch can also be used to resolve inflammation and injury and facilitate healing. Naturopathic doctors have the knowledge and skills to formulate individualized treatment plans that may include one or more of these healing modalities to best address the health needs of their patients.