Aquatic Physical Therapy vs. Physical Therapy for Spinal Cord Disorder

Comparison of the effect of aquatic physical therapy and conventional physical therapy in patients with Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS): a randomized controlled trial

By Kaynoosh Homayouni and Hajar Karimian Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Mahshid Naseri, Shahid Faghihi hospital, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Foroozandeh Zaravar and Leila Zaravar, School of Paramedical Sciences; Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, April 2015.



To assess and compare the effect of aquatic and conventional physical therapy, two well-known non-operative therapeutic options in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS).



50 patients with low back pain and the diagnosis of LSS were recruited in this prospective parallel randomized controlled trial. Patients in group one were enrolled in aquatic therapy program and those in group two attended physical therapy sessions through application of physical modalities and receiving a home-based exercise program. Pain and walking ability were measured in each group before therapy, immediately after therapy and three months later.



Patients in both groups improved regarding pain either assessed immediately after therapy (repeated measure test, p < 0.001) or three months later (Wilcoxon test, p < 0.001 for group one and p = 0.005 for group two). Functioning improved in both groups (repeated measure test, p < 0.001) but this advantage did not remain significant after three months follow up in group two (repeated measure test, p = 0.002 in group one and p = 0.181 in group two). Patients in group one had significantly more favorable outcome than group two regarding functioning (independent samples t-test, p = 0.02) and pain (Mann–Whitney test, p = 0.001); however, this superiority didn’t sustain in long term follow up.



Aquatic therapy can provide greater short term improvement in pain and functioning than conventional physical therapy in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis especially those with limited capability for exercise on land.


Reference: Journal of Musculoskeletal Research, Volume 18, Issue 01, March 2015

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