According to the American Physical Therapy Association, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is classified as an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The cause of RA is thought to be a combination of genetics, hormonal factors, and environmental factors. Symptoms of RA can include joint stiffness, painful or swollen joints on both sides of the body, fatigue, fever, impaired joint function, and redness or warmth of affected joints. It is important that your physical therapist is aware your history of RA as it may impact your overall treatment plan.
How can physical therapy help?
Physical therapist treatment for RA can pay an important role in maintaining and improving function that may be limited by RA. Your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive examination to highlight any problems with strength, joint mobility, endurance, or balance. Studies have shown that physical activity including strength, flexibility, and aerobic exercises help to improve function and reduce pain in those with RA. In addition, Low Level Laser (“Cold Laser”) therapy has shown positive results when managing pain and joint inflammation caused by RA.