5 Kinds of Physiotherapy Exercises to Help with Weig...
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Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 01-Nov-2023
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide and one of the most common symptoms is joint pain. If you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis, you know this pain can greatly impact your quality of life. For some, it can even be debilitating. Fortunately, physical therapy has proven effective at managing joint pain for many RA patients. In this article, we’ll look at the importance of physical therapy for managing rheumatoid arthritis and we’ll review the top 3 exercises for RA suffers, including range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, and aerobic/low-impact exercises. These exercises can help alleviate your joint pain and improve your overall mobility. We’ll also look at the importance of proper form and consistency to ensure you get the maximum benefit.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune disease that causes your body’s immune system to attack your joints, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. The result is inflammation, swelling, mild to severe pain, and even the destruction of joints, typically in the hands and feet. The pain can range from mild discomfort to severe joint pain, affecting daily living. RA related pain can be triggered by physical activity, cold weather, or joint overuse. It may also worsen with increased joint damage, swelling, joint inflammation, or other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis (OA). Identifying the cause of the pain is essential for effective pain management and early treatment is crucial for preventing disability and improving or maintaining your quality of life.
Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing rheumatoid arthritis pain and improving joint function. It focuses on reducing joint inflammation, improving joint stability, and enhancing joint mobility through various treatment options, such as exercises, massage, cold therapy, and heating pads. In some cases, warm bath therapy can also help. Pain relief is found by strengthening the supporting muscles around the affected joints and by using joint mobilization techniques, which also restores range of motion. Working with a physiotherapist ensures you have an individualized treatment plan based on the particulars of your condition and needs.
Range of motion exercises are the foundation of maintaining joint flexibility and preventing the morning stiffness that often plagues rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Regularly performing these exercises help keep your joints supple, ensuring you can continue your daily activities with less discomfort.
Strengthening exercises play a crucial role in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. RA can weaken the muscles around your joints, leading to instability, pain, and reduced mobility. Strengthening exercises target specific muscle groups to improve joint stability and reduce pain. By building muscle, you provide additional support to your joints, reducing pain and enhancing your overall stability.
Aerobic exercises are beneficial for managing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by improving cardiovascular health, endurance, and aiding in weight loss. However, while high-impact exercises may not be suitable for individuals with RA, low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming, cycling, or water aerobics provide cardiovascular benefits without causing excessive strain on your joints.
No matter which exercises you’re performing, it’s crucial to focus on proper form and to be consistent in order to avoid injury and achieve the optimal impact. Proper form, including alignment and technique, ensures that the joints and muscles you’re targeting are being effectively engaged. It also helps to avoid injury from hyper-extending, overloading or overstraining your joints. As for consistency, this is the key to experiencing the benefits of exercise. Incorporate these exercises into your daily routine, or as frequently as advised by physiotherapist, and you’ll be more likely to see improvements in your joint mobility, pain levels, and overall physical and even emotional well-being.
Because each person’s condition and capabilities vary, it’s important that you consult with a healthcare professional before starting a physical therapy routine for RA related joint pain. Certain exercises may not be suitable for your particular situation and it’s important proceed with a plan that’s tailored to your specific needs. Work with an experienced physiotherapist who understands RA and be sure to communicate openly about any pain during exercises. It’s also important to set realistic goals and to progress gradually. Consistency is essential, but remember to allow time to rest and recover.
Frequency depends on the particulars of your condition and the recommendations of your physiotherapist. Typically, performing exercises 2 to 3 times per week is a good starting point. As you progress, you may increase the frequency. However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. Consistency is key, so try to stick to a regular routine and adjust based on your progress and comfort.
In addition to physical therapy, other treatments and therapies can be used to manage your rheumatoid arthritis. Dietary changes, hot and cold therapies, acupuncture, massage, and occupational therapy accommodations can also have positive impacts. Lifestyle changes such as increasing activity levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding activities that worsen joint pain can also be beneficial. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to alleviate pain as can hyaluronic acid injections. Of course, working with a healthcare professional to determine the best combination of treatments for managing your rheumatoid arthritis is always recommended.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be a very disruptive and debilitating condition. However, physical therapy exercises can play a crucial role in managing your condition and improving your quality of life. Range of motion exercises help improve joint flexibility, while strengthening exercises build muscular support around the joints. Aerobic and low-impact exercises enhance endurance and overall fitness. As with all exercise programs, proper form and consistency to key for reducing risk maximize impact. Of course, every person’s journey with rheumatoid arthritis is unique, so it’s important to consult with an experienced physiotherapist or other healthcare professional to create an exercise plan tailored to your specific condition and needs. Remember that your journey with RA is ongoing, and it’s essential to adapt your approach as your needs change. With the right support, resources, and a commitment to your well-being, you can take control of your well-being, reduce your pain, and enhance your quality of life.
If you’re struggling with joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis and need help with managing your condition, we can help. Contact us today and let us show you why, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.
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