What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is commonly known as an inflammatory disease that affects different joints and organs in the body. Since the disease is progressive in this form of arthritis, it is difficult to control rapid progressions of symptoms. It leads to intense pain and limitations on your range of motion which worsens over time. Physiotherapy for the knee, especially in cases of rheumatoid arthritis can really help manage your pain, help improve flexibility and improve your overall knee and muscle health as a way to combat this disease.

 Rheumatoid arthritis happens due to a faulty immune response and can be classified under the umbrella of autoimmune diseases. When you have RA, your cells will attack the lining of the joint, which will lead to swelling and erosion of the joint over time. RA usually starts first the smaller joints and then works itself up to the bigger joints. It first affects the smaller and delicate bones in the wrist, hand, and toe joints and starts working its way up to the big bones like knees, hips, and shoulders. It even affects the organs like the eyes, lungs, and heart in serious and advanced cases.

What Are the Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis? 

Since Rheumatoid Arthritis is a progressive disease, it evolves in 4 stages. Those stages are- 

  • Early-stage– Initial stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis are characterized by minor swelling and inflammation that develops in the lining of the smaller bones. It starts with the feeling of soreness, stiffness, and swelling especially in the hands, wrists, and fingers. 
  • Moderate Stage– In this stage of RA, inflammation and swelling become more prominent and consistent. It becomes so aggressive that significant cartilage damage also starts presenting along with other symptoms like a limitation in range of motion, reduced flexibility, and mobility. This sets the stage for the erosion of the joints. 
  • Severe Stage– This is one of the most intense and advanced stages where the symptoms are more pronounced and painful. The swelling and inflammation become more severe and even cause the bones in joints to erode. This causes certain affected areas of your body to look severely deformed and your range of motion in those areas is severely impacted or non existent. You also have reduced strength in the muscles in the affected area. 
  • End-Stage– This is the end stage and terminal period of this disease. The inflammation subsides and any form of functionality in the affected joint is lost. Due to loss of sensation, pain and swelling subside at the end-stage.

Also Read: Knee Stiffness – Causes, Treatment and Exercises

Benefits of RA Physical Therapy for Rheumatoid Therapy and Joint Health

The great thing about physiotherapy for knee pain is the attention to detail and your personal experience. Physiotherapy assessment of rheumatoid arthritis will have a detailed analysis of your genetic history, current incorrect movements, postural corrections, rheumatoid arthritis rehabilitation, and much more. RA can be a life-changing diagnosis to some and can significantly affect the organs and joints, but physiotherapy for knee pain and rheumatoid arthritis physical therapy treatment can help you manage your short-term pain symptoms and can prevent painful flare-ups in the long term. While rheumatoid arthritis can have a traumatic effect on the joints and organs of the body, physical therapy can provide several meaningful benefits. Rheumatoid Arthritis physical therapy protocol includes the following-

Pain Management

The great thing about physiotherapy for knee pain is that it is a drug-free, non-invasive approach to pain management that can be easily practiced at home. It includes a lot of exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles and helping in supporting the joints affected by the disease and reducing the painful feelings of the symptoms. Your assigned PT also suggests some simple at-home exercises that you can perform easily at home to conserve your mobility and manage your pain in case you have a flare-up. Your PT may also suggest heat and ice therapies along with electrotherapy to help with painful manifestations of symptoms. 

Better Functionality

Rheumatoid arthritis physical therapy treatment is recommended as it helps improve flexibility, mobility, and overall functionality of the affected joints. Your assigned physical therapist will help you practice some therapeutic measures to help keep away the RA-related fatigue and will also recommend ways in which you can improve the quality of your sleep. They will also recommend exercises mainly related to stretching that can help improve mobility and flexibility and can also help in conserving the range of motion you already have. It helps make your daily life easier by empowering and strengthening you to perform daily tasks with less pain and upscales the quality of life. 

Reduced Swelling and Inflammation

Inflammation can really affect your daily tasks and routine. Physiotherapy for knee pain can help you manage that providing much-needed guidance on how to perform cardio exercises, or go walking, swimming, biking, hiking, etc safely and regularly. This helps in healthy weight management as increased weight on your knee can increase the inflammation in the joints. By decreasing the inflammation in your body, you are also thwarting the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Prevents Diabetes and other related diseases

Since physiotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis includes enough cardio exercises, it helps you by reducing your risk of developing other diseases. By encouraging regular exercise, physiotherapy helps reduce your insulin resistance, helps lower hypertension symptoms, and prevention of diabetes. RA can make you feel immobilized and a sedentary lifestyle is not good for your overall health so physical therapy definitely works to reduce your risk. 

What are the options available for RA-related Physiotherapy? 

The first step is seeking help and scheduling an appointment with your physiotherapist. Once that is done, your physiotherapist assesses your situation and lifestyle and suggests various treatment options. They provided a well-rounded and well-researched customized treatment plan designed to treat your symptoms and manifestations.

Active PT – This type of Physical therapy addresses your range of motion issues and daily movement like walking, sitting, climbing stairs, and switching your weight between positions. Your PT will analyze your current movement patterns and suggest corrections to help remedy your pain. These types of roles help the patients take an active charge over their treatment plans through drills, strengthening, improving mobility by practicing exercises, improving movement to perform daily tasks, and much more. 

Occupational PT – This type of physical therapy is focused on making you more independent and able to perform daily tasks like dressing, cooking, and bathing easier and pain-free. It can be easily merged with active PT for enhanced treatment. 

Passive PT – This type of PT is where the therapist’s role is dominant in exercising the treatment protocol. It happens in conjunction with the active and occupational PT. It includes massage therapy, stretching, electrotherapy, aqua therapy, splint and fabrication.

Also Read: Benefits of Physiotherapy for Knee Pain

For more information about knee arthritis and physiotherapy for knee pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of knee exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!