Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is chronic inflammatory condition that most commonly affects the joints and tendons. RA can also affect the lungs, heart, blood vessels, blood, kidneys, eyes and liver but this is less common. RA is an autoimmune disease but It is currently unknown why certain individuals attain the disease and exhibit the symptoms. Current research shows that a genetic component may be present. RA is diagnosed with a blood test for C-reactive protein (CRP) or elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). X-ray and MRI can be used to determine the current level of damage to the joint and monitor the progression over time. Imaging is also used to rule out other diagnoses. Currently there is no cure for RA. A doctor may prescribe NSAIDs, steroids, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARDs) to manage the pain and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Most alternative medicine has not shown improvement in symptoms but physical therapy does not fall into this category.

Physical therapy is used to improve function of individuals with the disease. Manual interventions and stretching are used to promote joint health and reduce pain levels. Strengthening needs to be performed in a systematic and controlled approach to prevent increased pain and flare ups in the disease process. Guidance and education are provide to promote joint protection and energy conservation. Activity and environment modification will be performed to further reduce stress on the individual. Studies show that  individuals who attended therapy have improved function, strength, and pain when compared to individuals who performed no exercise. Also, individuals who attended therapy are 19% more likely to continue performing the exercises provided to them. If you are dealing with RA, come on down to Advanced PRM to find a skilled physical therapy who can help you manage the symptoms associated with the disease.

Park, Youngju, and Moonyoung Chang. “Effects of Rehabilitation for Pain Relief in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: a Systematic Review.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, vol. 28, no. 1, 2016, pp. 304–308., doi:10.1589/jpts.28.304.

Williams, Mark A, et al. “Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2018, doi:10.1002/14651858.cd003832.pub3

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