Hydrotherapy Treatment for ME Fibromyalgia Chronic Pain


Hey guys, I’m back with another installment in the tales of my hydrotherapy treatment!  If you haven’t read my previous posts, you can find them here: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.

Hydrotherapy Treatment for ME Fibromyalgia

After my first hydrotherapy session, I definitely experienced some side effects.  For the rest of the day of my first session, I actually felt pretty good.  I had a bit of energy and the pain wasn’t too bad – I feel like I was probably running on adrenaline.  I expected to wake up feeling awful the next day, but I didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feel well, but I felt my usual level of unwell.  It was the day after that (so 2 days after the hydro) that the post-exertational malaise kicked in…

Pain Increase/Fatigue

My pain increased quite a bit, to the point where it was interrupting my sleep.  My fatigue was much worse – I had to spend even more time than usual sleeping… I couldn’t seem to stay awake over that few days!  It wasn’t pleasant, but I was mentally prepared for possibly feeling that way so it didn’t take me by surprise.  I had made sure I didn’t have any other appointments or anything I had to do for the rest of that week, so I had plenty of time to rest and recouperate. 

The worst symptoms eased off around day 4/5, but my fatigue remained a bit worse than normal for at least a week. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to my second scheduled session.  The hospital scheduled sessions every week, once a week.  For my sort of illnesses, this isn’t ideal as it doesn’t allow much recovery time in between! 

By the time session 2 came around, I was still suffering the increased fatigue and sadly woke up feeling really unwell (I came down with a sickness bug a few days later, so I think I was already starting to get that).  I couldn’t even get up and dressed, so getting to the hospital was impossible.  They were understanding (as I’m sure it happens to them quite a bit!) but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t go, as I don’t think they will add an extra session to the end – I assume I will probably just lose that session [update: they kindly added an extra session on for me!].

“Unfortunately I was unable to go to my second session”

The Hydrotherapy Exercises

Luckily, I wasn’t feeling too bad when I woke up on the day of session 3 (but actually session 2 to me!)  I was tired but was able to get up and dressed and make it to the appointment.  The physio worked with just me for a few minutes, as I was the first to get into the hydrotherapy pool.  She asked how I had been after the last session and advised that we shouldn’t push too hard, to try and avoid me flaring up again.  She reminded me of the exercises I did last time and asked me to run through them all again. 

The physios leave your exercise sheet balanced on the side of the pool, so if you forget what you’re doing you can just check that (as the physio is often busy with someone else). I began by sitting on the underwater chair, doing neck stretches (the reason you sit on a chair is to submerge as much of your body as possible under the warm water, which should ease the muscles and make movement easier).  Next up were wrist rolls, shoulder rolls, shoulder stretches and hand squeezes.  Then I walked through the water holding a ‘noodle’ float – with each step forward, I would twist my upper body to one side or the other (trying to maintain balance and use my core muscles).  Finally were squats and leg raises.

“I began by sitting on the underwater chair, doing neck stretches”

I find the wrist rolls and hand squeezes most difficult, as they get really sore whilst I’m doing them.  Everything else feels pretty much ok at the time (although sore afterwards).  I would say the easiest exercises for me are the leg based ones, like squats and raises.  I have much less pain in my legs in general than I do my arms and upper body. 

All in all, I was in the water for around 30 minutes.  I did find this time that I didn’t have much input from the physio, but as I was only doing exercises I had done last time, it didn’t matter too much.  If you’re a bit shy, you need to be prepared to speak up if you need help or are unsure of anything, as it seems that after your first hydrotherapy session, you won’t get much 1-on-1 time.  There were 3 other people in the water at the same time, which makes the small pool a little crowded, but it’s not a problem.

“If you’re a bit shy, you need to be prepared to speak up if you need help… as you won’t get much 1-on-1 time after the first session”

Second Session: After-Effects

I am writing this post the day after my second session and so far I’m feeling a bit sore but nothing too bad.  One downside is that it’s 8am and I haven’t slept yet, despite being really tired!  Unfortunately, any increased activity seems to ‘switch my adrenaline on’ and my body can’t seem to distinguish that the hydrotherapy is over now and it can switch back off!  This means I will probably be left absolutely knackered once it does switch back off. 

I will pop back in and give you an update after another few days, like last time. Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them in the comments section!

Just a reminder that if you haven’t read the rest of the hydrotherapy posts, you can find them here: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.

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  1. Emma says:

    This is very interesting reading your experience of hydrotherapy as I have been writing about mine recently for EDS HYPERMOBILITY, I have had 4 sessions but am very limited mobility and am hoisted in and carried round the pool by my physio. I suffer from PoTS as well so have complex problems.

    • Katie Cupcake - Life with ME says:

      Oh really? I’ll have to have a read! I have a friend with EDS, I know it can be an extremely tough condition to live with. POTS must make everything so much more difficult too! I really hope the hydrotherapy gives you some relief. Sending you lots of spoons! Thanks so much for reading and commenting 🙂 xx

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