What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis and How Physical Therapy Can Help


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects your joints, causing them to become swollen and painful. This is different from osteoarthritis, which is due to wear and tear on your joints. Your immune system protects your body from disease, but if it attacks your own body’s tissues, it can result in pain and damage.  Fortunately, there are treatments available for rheumatoid arthritis, including physical therapy Kyle TX.

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis

Nobody knows exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis. It appears that some people are genetically predisposed to develop dysfunction of the immune system. This means that you may be more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis if you have a family member who has it.

Genetics alone are not the cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Often, some kind of trigger is needed to start it, such as stress, infection, or smoking.

How To Improve Your Quality of Life at Home

Physical therapy near me may be a treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis. There are also things you can do at home to manage your symptoms more effectively.

Negative emotions and stress can trigger your symptoms. It can help to do things that put you in a happy mood, as well as surrounding yourself with people who will provide emotional support.

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, may help to reduce symptoms in your joints. Some supplements, such as omega-3 fish oil or turmeric, may also help RA symptoms. Check with your doctor first to make sure there are no contraindications.

Even if you can’t take oral NSAIDs, it may be possible to apply a similar medication directly to the affected area as a topical ointment. This is less risky as the medication does not spread throughout your entire body.

If your joints are acutely swollen or inflamed, cold compresses may help to ease pain. If your joints or muscles are stiff, a hot compress can bring more blood to the area and help relieve your symptoms.

Assistive devices can help you to accomplish tasks that are difficult to manage with your rheumatoid arthritis. For example, you can use a buttonhook to help you get dressed or prepare food with a kitchen knife with a specially designed grip.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help With Symptoms

Overexerting yourself when your joints are inflamed can lead to injury. Nevertheless, not moving much can cause your joints to become stiffer. A physical therapist San Antonio can teach you an exercise program tailored to your individual situation that helps you strike the right balance between activity and rest.

A physical therapist may be able to perform pain relief modalities that help to relieve your symptoms, such as ultrasound or iontophoresis. Your therapist can also teach you range of motion exercises to help you maintain your flexibility.

Another function of physical therapy is to teach you how to carry out your daily living activities without provoking your symptoms. A physical therapist may be able to teach you techniques that allow you to function effectively at work or home without pain.

Though nothing can reverse the joint damage, the prognosis for people with rheumatoid arthritis is much better than it was 50 years ago. Ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in treating RA.