Physiotherapy for managing rheumatoid arthritis
Dr Govardhan G (pt)
Kasavanahalli, Bengaluru Jan 10, 2019
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a very common type of arthritis which affects various joints in the body. It is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and joints. It is a painful condition which causes swelling and can even lead to bone erosion or joint deformities if not taken care of. There is no definite treatment for rheumatoid arthritis but the progress of the disease can be checked with the help of physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy practices for RA:
- Cold/hot applications: it is one of the most common ways to tackle RA. Cold applications are done when the problem is acute and hot applications when it is chronic. By using hot applications, muscle spasm is relieved and with the help of cold application, cartilage-destroying enzymes are kept in check.
- Electrical stimulation: it is another very common modality for RA treatment. The most commonly used method is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and it helps in relieving the pain caused due to RA.
- Hydrotherapy: it is used to increase the range of motion, strengthen the muscles, and for overall well being of the person.
To further prevent the damage to the joints due to RA, there are various joint protection strategies that physiotherapists recommend like:
- Rest and splinting: it is critical that the body gets to rest during acute phases. Resting and splinting prevent the development of deformities.
- Therapy gloves: it is a very effective way to manage hand pain and to increase the hand grip strength.
- Compression gloves: it helps in controlling the swelling and pain reduction.
Besides the above-mentioned techniques, physiotherapy also recommends massage and therapeutic exercises for managing RA. There are various range of motion (ROM), stretching, and strengthening exercises that your physiotherapist may recommend depending on your condition. These exercises when performed regularly significantly help to manage RA.