Physical Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Physical Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Topic Overview

The purpose of physiotherapy is to decrease pain and allow you to continue daily activities. Physiotherapy can reduce pain in the soft tissues (such as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons), improve function, and build muscle strength. A physiotherapist provides these treatments and will also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.

Physiotherapy techniques for rheumatoid arthritis may include:

  • Stretching, to reduce stress on joints.
  • Education, to help you improve and maintain your posture.
  • Exercise, to strengthen muscles.
  • Manual therapy, including massage, to improve or maintain range of motion.
  • Heat therapy, to improve blood circulation to the muscles and other soft tissues.
  • Ice therapy, to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Cycling and limited walking, to promote good physical conditioning.
  • Water exercises, to allow your body to exercise without pressure on the spine.

Your health professional and/or physiotherapist will design a program specific to your normal level of activity, physical fitness, and severity of pain and disease activity.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last Revised September 30, 2010

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