If you’ve heard of arthritis before, chances are you’re thinking about osteoarthritis.
It’s by far the most common type of arthritis, but there are many others.
The second most common is rheumatoid arthritis, which affects about 1% of the US population.
If you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it may feel frightening, but there’s hope.
With the right treatment, you can still enjoy a happy, fulfilling, independent life in spite of your diagnosis.
At Capitol Physical Therapy, our qualified orthopedic physical therapists near me have experience helping people with rheumatoid arthritis manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of physical therapy for the management of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, this article is for you.
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a relatively common autoimmune disease that typically causes chronic joint inflammation.
Autoimmune diseases are conditions where your body’s immune system begins mistakenly attacking its own tissues.
This mistaken autoimmune response can lead to a variety of symptoms, depending on the bodily systems involved.
In rheumatoid arthritis, this autoimmune response affects the soft tissue around your body’s joints.
Fluid begins to build up around this tissue and ultimately causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis is commonly diagnosed around midlife, but it can affect people at younger ages more frequently than osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
The most common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is pain and inflammation located in and around the joints of your body.
This inflammation can make any activity that requires significant movement difficult.
Additional symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include:
- Stiff joints, which are worse in the mornings
- Painful, swollen joints on both sides of your body
- General discomfort
- Low grade fever
- Loss of joint function or range of movement
- Redness, warmth, and tenderness in your joints
People living with rheumatoid arthritis sometimes experience periods of exaggerated symptoms followed by periods of little to no symptoms.
These periods are referred to as “flare ups” and “remission”.
What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an autoimmune response.
Your body’s immune system mistakes the tissues in your joints for a pathogen and attacks it.
Why this happens medically is not clear.
We do know there are certain factors that can put you at higher risk of developing it though, including:
- Having a parent with rheumatoid arthritis
- Alcohol abuse
- Being middle aged or older
- Gender – cisgender women tend to develop rheumatoid arthritis more than cisgender men, but all genders can be diagnosed with it
- Deficiencies in certain hormones, including sex hormones
- Adrenal issues
Similarly, preventative measures for rheumatoid arthritis have yet to be identified.
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you suspect you have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor.
It can be complicated to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, since the early symptoms mimic a number of other diseases.
Your doctor may send you to a rheumatologist for further testing.
Once you receive a diagnosis for rheumatoid arthritis, we can help.
Here at Capitol Physical Therapy in Washington DC, we’ll design a personalized treatment plan that works with your lifestyle to help with symptom management and prevent flare ups.
Let’s take a look at how.
How Can Physical Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis Help?
Physical therapists are movement experts.
We understand how your bones, joints, and muscles work together to support your body and overall health.
Therefore, physical therapy can help you with symptom management as well as improvement of your daily activity levels.
Beginning physical therapy right after a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is vital for easing your current symptoms and preventing future flare ups.
No two physical therapy programs for rheumatoid arthritis look the same.
Since the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary from person to person, so too will the physical therapy approach.
Your physical therapist will design a unique treatment plan that accommodates your specific needs and treatment goals.
Physical therapy treatment plans for rheumatoid arthritis often includes:
- Advice and encouragement on how to improve your general fitness through exercise
- A personalized exercise plan to help improve your joint flexibility and muscle strength
- Advice on energy saving measures to improve your daily functions at home and work
- Suggestions for short term pain management methods, such as heat and cold therapy or electrical stimuli
Speak to your physical therapist to find out more about which treatment approaches might be best for you.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
At Capitol Physical therapy, we know how troublesome the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can be, and we’re here to help.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC