What is Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a complication of rheumatic fever and the symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and increased joint temperature.  Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects the small joints in the hands and feet of a person and is categorised as a chronic disease, which is characterised by periods of the arthritis flaring up and then going into remission.  In severe cases rheumatoid arthritis destroys the joints and causes functional disabilities and deformities of the joints.  The condition is more common in females and mostly effects individuals between the ages of 40 and 60.


The patient will display one or more of the following symptoms when contracting Rheumatoid arthritis:

Fatigue /tiredness
·Loss of energy
·Lack of appetite
·Muscle and joint stiffness especially in the morning or after prolonged inactivity
·Swollen joints that are red and tender
·Difficulties in doing simple tasks e.g. opening doors and jars

If the patient suffers from any these symptoms it is recommended that the patient consults their General Practitioner or physiotherapist.

Physiotherapy treatment

Physiotherapy treatment is important in helping patients with Rheumatoid arthritis to manage their disease and facilitate the mobilisation of the joints.  The physiotherapy treatment of the condition will normally involve the following:

Cold and Hot therapy
·Electro therapy (stimulation)

“Cold therapy” is used in the initial and acute stages where an increase in temperature is undesirable.  This treatment decreases swelling and reduces pain.  The “hot therapy” that is normally administered at the later stages decreases muscle spasms and has pain relieving effects and makes exercises easier.

Electro therapy and massaging is used mainly to decrease the swelling and pain in the joints. 

The physiotherapist will prescribe exercises to the patient that will increase strength and stability around the joints, thereby minimising injuries and increasing physical functionality in the daily activities of the patient.