Although the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is unknown, what we do understand is that the inflammation is brought on by the failure of the immune system to recognise the soft tissue and consequently tries to destroy it.
This chronic disease is characterised by an inflammation of the lining of the joints and although this can affect many joints around the body, it is most commonly formed in the hands and feet. The process of RA is unfortunately continuous and potentially leads to damage cartilage, bones, tendons and ligaments. The main risk of this being permanent damage such as joint deformity and significant disability.
So how can Physiotherapy help?
When dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis, it can be difficult to find what works for you, physiotherapy can play an important role in helping prevent physical impairment and assists to restore functional ability. With the help of mobility aids, exercise, therapeutic modalities and an education to understand both arthritis and physiotherapy, it can make managing the illness less daunting.
Physiotherapy can help to reduce the disability and pain caused by RA. After a thorough assessment has been conducted, a plan will be put together that may include such things as:
- Specifically chosen therapeutic modalities and possibly hydrotherapy.
- A tailored exercise program put in place to improve or maintain joint mobility and assist in decreasing joint pain by strengthening the surrounding muscles.
- Recommendations made for possible assistive devices, for example, mobility aids, to reduce unnecessarily caused stress and pain.
The stiffness of joints and muscle weakness caused by arthritis can be difficult to live with as they can affect your everyday activities. Exercise can not only help you manage some of the symptoms of RA, but also improve them. With knowledge of specific joint movements, improved walking techniques and ways to strengthen your muscles, physiotherapists offer a wide range of suggestions on how to cope with the condition.