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    Physical Therapy for Rheumatoid Arthritis - Topic Overview

    The purpose of physical therapy is to reduce pain and allow you to continue daily activities. Physical therapy can reduce pain in the soft tissues (such as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons), improve function, and build muscle strength. A physical therapist provides these treatments and will also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.

    Physical therapy techniques for rheumatoid arthritis may include:

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    Understanding Rheumatoid Arthritis -- Treatment

    The main treatment goals with rheumatoid arthritis are to control inflammation and slow or stop down RA. Treatment usually includes medications, occupational or physical therapy, and regular exercise. Some people need surgery to correct joint damage. Early, aggressive treatment is key to good results. And with today’s treatments, joint damage can be slowed or stopped in many cases.

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    • Stretching, to increase flexibility and reduce stress on joints.
    • Education, to help you improve and maintain your posture.
    • Exercise, to strengthen muscles.
    • Manual therapy, including massage, to improve or maintain range of motion.
    • Heat therapy, to improve blood circulation to the muscles and other soft tissues.
    • Ice therapy, to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
    • Cycling and limited walking, to promote good physical conditioning.
    • Water exercises, to allow your body to exercise without pressure on the spine.

    Your doctor or physical therapist or both will design a program specific to your normal level of activity, physical fitness, severity of pain, and disease activity.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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