Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. The body tissue is mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. It may also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, blood or nerves. Women are affected three to five times more often than men.
Joints become swollen, tender warm and stiff, all of which limit their movement. With time multiple joints are affected. Most commonly involved are the small joints of the hands, feet and cervical spine, but larger joints like the shoulder and knee can also be involved.
Patients with RA present with a combination of the following symptoms:
Onset is uncommon under the age of 15 and from then on the incidence rises with age until the age of 80.
The goals of treatment are to minimize symptoms such as pain and swelling, to prevent bone deformity, and to maintain day-to-day functioning. Primarily treatment includes a combination of exercises to strengthen supporting muscles around the joints. Regular supervised exercises of stiff and painful joints reduces the overall pain in patients with RA. In addition, exercises keep bones and muscles strong and help reverse joint stiffness.
Modalities such as heat, Paraffin wax bath, Ultrasound, TENS, Interferential Therapy etc are used to alleviate pain and joint stiffness.