Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Select An Article

How Physical and Occupational Therapy Help for RA

Font Size

Because you have rheumatoid arthritis, you'd probably benefit a lot from physical therapy and occupational therapy. It’s often part of the RA treatment plan.

Healthy joints are the "hinges" that let you move around. Many of us take that for granted. These simple movements aren't always automatic or easy when you have RA, though. They can be painful.

The goals and treatments used by physical therapists and occupational therapists sometimes overlap, but there are some general differences.

Physical Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

The goal of it is to keep you moving. It uses exercise and other methods to stimulate muscles, bones, and joints. The result is more strength, tone, and overall fitness.

Physical therapists understand the mechanics of bones, joints, and muscles working together, the problems that can happen, and what to do about them. It’s a good idea to work with a therapist, whether you’ve had RA for a long time, you’re newly diagnosed, and no matter how severe it is.

In the early stages of the disease, your physical therapist can check on your strength, fitness, and how well your joints work. She'll make an exercise plan to keep your joints as healthy as possible.

If you have moderate or advanced rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy can help you keep or improve your strength and flexibility.

Together, you’ll make a plan for each muscle and joint group, and for your overall fitness. It will probably include:

Exercise. This is the cornerstone of any physical therapy plan. It will match your ability and fitness level, and include flexibility, strength, and cardio (aerobic exercise).

Heat or ice. Treating inflamed or painful joints with heat or ice packs helps some people feel better.

Massage. It can also help you feel better.

Motivation and encouragement. It’s a big plus to have a pro to cheer you on and push you to keep going.

Occupational Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis

This helps you stay independent. A therapist will check to see what you need help with. Then, he can teach you better or easier ways to accomplish those things.

If activities like dressing, cooking, or bathing become hard or painful, occupational therapists can recommend or provide solutions. Assistive devices are products or improvements that make common tasks easier.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 15, 2015
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights