Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which bacteria and viruses inside the body attack the joints and body systems. Many who are diagnosed will take medications prescribed by an MD. Patients can even use Physical Therapy to help regain strength throughout the joints. Physical therapy can help regain mobility that is lost in joints.
On the very first day of therapy, a physical therapist would undergo a full evaluation determining any weaknesses, strengths, mobility issues, gait abnormalities, stability, any areas of pain, as well as personal goals that a patient may have for themselves. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis will go to physical therapy to treat the symptoms of RA. The next visit a team of therapists/therapist assistants will work with the patient to reach those goals at a functional level and restore as much function as possible. Most of physical therapy will be targeting stretching, strength, stability, and mobility.
The following will be an outline of what therapy will consist of:
- Walking on antigravity treadmill or regular treadmill to increase circulation in joints
- Therapeutic exercises that include stretching at all joints of the body to increase mobility and increase range of motion in efforts to decrease any stiffness at the joint
- Therapeutic exercise to help strengthen muscles and facilitate a proper gait pattern in lower extremities and increase functional activity tolerance with upper extremities. Most of the strengthening therapeutic exercises will be done with very mild resistance to avoid irritation/injuries.
- Manual therapy will be administered by a PT/PTA. Manual therapy can include soft tissue massage, gentle oscillations, PNF patterns, etc.
- End therapy session with ice to decrease any swelling or inflammation and decrease pain.
Before administering modalities such as ultrasound or IFC, it is important to be aware of contraindications and precautions.
Since patients with rheumatoid arthritis fatigue quicker, it is important to perform therapeutic exercises that involve more strength and mobility at the beginning of the therapy session. Take breaks as needed and do not overwork patients.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is intended to be informational only, and is not intended to be used in lieu of medical care. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist before attempting treatment on your own.
If you are experiencing any kind of joint pain or have been diagnosed with rheumatorid arthritis, contact us for a free consultation. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022