Pain and stiffness are often subjective complaints that prevent people from participating in active lifestyles including exercise. We see many people at our Oakville Physio clinic who have been avoiding activity due to pain of some sort. This is often the case with those with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Once RA symptoms are controlled medically with the help of a Rheumatologist working with a Physiotherapist can be an important part of managing the symptoms and progression.
First: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis also known as “RA” is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory disease. RA results in persistent inflammation of synovial tissue. Synovial tissue can be found in joints that move. RA is commonly occurs in the joints of the wrists, hands and feet. Due to the persistent inflammation, the structures around the joint such as the tendon sheath, the bursa and tendons, can also be affected.
What are the Symptoms of RA?
- Joint Pain
- Morning stiffness
- Joint stiffness after periods of inactivity
- Joint swelling
- Decreased joint mobility
All of these symptoms can result in a decrease in function. RA can lead to joint damage and potentially joint deformity. As Rheumatoid Arthritis progresses there can be decreases in function and quality of life. As such early diagnosis of RA and appropriate treatment are important.
How Can Physio Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Although RA is a persistent condition, Physiotherapy treatment can help a person manage in different ways:
- Pain relief
- slow the activity of RA
- Increase and maintain function
- Fall prevention
- Increased coordination
- Increased endurance
In addition to issues involving their joints, it is important a person with RA continues to be active for the many benefits of an active lifestyle. Many guidelines to treatment of RA recommends using Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy as a complimentary treatment with traditional drug therapy.
What are Goals of Physiotherapy in the Management of RA?
Improved Quality of life through:
- Control of pain
- Improved activities of daily living
- Prevent joint damage
- Decrease joint stiffness
- Improve strength
- Increase energy