Hydrotherapy: FSA Eligibility
What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a physical therapy tool and also a tool for applying hot and cold temperatures to the body for the purpose of thermotherapy, thermoregulatory reactions, and contrast therapy. Hydrotherapy requires a Letter of Medical Necessity (LMN) in order to be eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account.
Hydrotherapy involves using water either through force, or temperature-set for specific effects on the body. In addition to temperature based therapies, hydrotherapy can be a method of debriding tissue as well as treating burn injuries. Different types of hydrotherapy may be performed at the home with specific equipment such as a hot tub, or performed at a hospital such as with burn victims (Verywell Health).
Hydrotherapy is also used in alternative medicine, which is not to be confused with recreational uses of water, though they may sometimes appear similar.
Can hydrotherapy provide contrast therapy?
In addition to being a stand-alone treatment, hydrotherapy can also treat muscle/joint pain in a process called contrast therapy. The best way to illustrate this is by looking at hot and cold water as a pump: Heat Therapy will dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow of nutrient-rich blood, while cold therapy will constrict blood vessels and allow them to soak up as many nutrients as possible, thereby speeding the healing process. A cold-to-warm ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 minutes is ideal, and in many cases this method has sped recovery times for injured individuals (PainScience.com).