Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory form of arthritis. It is also a form of an autoimmune disease. It is still a mystery as to why the immune system attacks the synovium or the membrane lining of the joints, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Because of this attack, fluids start to build up in the affected joints thus causing pain and inflammation. This can happen throughout the patient’s body.
Physical therapy can be especially helpful to patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It can also be very challenging to stick to a therapy treatment plan because of the pain associated with this medical condition.
A treatment plan for a rheumatoid arthritis patient would usually start with passive treatments. Cold therapy can ease painful flare-ups. As it slows down circulation, it also reduces the swelling. The therapist can use a flouromethane spray to help cool down enflamed tissues.
Heat therapy will trigger the natural healing processes of the body. It will relax the tired muscles and joints and increase the flow of blood to the affected area. The extra blood will bring much needed oxygen and nutrients to the aching joints.
Alternating use of cold and heat therapy is best in order for a rheumatoid arthritis patient to take maximum advantage of the healing benefits of these active treatments.
Hydrotherapy is also a great way to relax muscles and relieve pain. The buoyancy of the water will allow the body to relax without added stress to the tired joints.
Another effective method for rheumatoid arthritis patients is massage. It can relax the tissues and the muscles of the affected joints. Massage can also be used with cold and heat therapy to boost the healing effects.
When the rheumatoid arthritis patient is ready, then active treatment can begin. This will include regular exercises designed to address joint movement, strength and flexibility. This can also help with the pain and also improve the overall health of the patient.
Since the range for motion is most likely restricted, rheumatoid arthritis patients will undergo stretching exercises to lengthen the muscles. Strengthening exercises will also follow. Strong and lean muscles can deal with pain better.
Biking, walking and other aerobic exercises are also good since they will strengthen the spine without adding more stress to the joints. It will also help in weight loss which can help in taking pressure off the affected joints.
The physical therapist can also teach patients with rheumatoid arthritis some self-care habits that would allow them to control symptoms and pain. Maintaining a fitness program will allow the patient to enjoy a good standard of living even if he or she is living with rheumatoid arthritis.