What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA is an autoimmune disease, a disorder caused by the body's tissues being attacked by it's own immune system, which results in swelling and inflammation of the joints. This inflammation can severely inhibit movement and cause pain in the areas of the afflicted joint. While joint pain and inflammation are the most commonly known side effects of this disease it can also afflict pain on tendons, muscles, and ligaments. In some cases infections and organ damage are also side effects of RA.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
You might feel like the most you can do is accept your rheumatoid arthritis and figure out how to adjust your life around the pain. A trained physical therapist can help you make changes in posture and movement patterns that can alleviate pain. It's best to make these adjustments to your movement with a trained professional and not on your own, because you might make adjustments that feel good now but are damaging in the long run.
A pt will also help you by providing exercises that will build strength and increase flexibility and mobility. Many patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis often experience a stiffening and shortening of muscles as they adjust their movements around the pain and inflammation in their joints. A physical therapist will design exercises combining strength and flexibility to offer you more control and length in your afflicted limbs.
In addition to active treatments, your pt will also offer a slew of passive treatments to help alleviate pain and to encourage healing. This can be from icing to reduce inflammation to heat treatments that will increase blood flow and encourage healing. Fancy offices might even have cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, or machines that use electrical currents to release endorphins that kill pain centers. It's also helpful to have a talented acupuncturist or massage therapist on hand to deal with pain management as well.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a pain, but you can do something to combat and even alleviate that pain. A trained physical therapist will give you the tools you need to gain strength, flexibility, and mobility. They'll also offer tools and methods to relieve and reduce pain. Take advantage of their expertise, it's worth it to not give into the pain and inconveniences of rheumatoid arthritis.