Updated December 2023

More common among women than men, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease in which your body attacks the joints, starting as painful swelling in the hands and feet. Though it primarily affects people older than 40, it can strike at any age. And while there is no cure, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis has come a long way in recent years.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include swelling and warmth in the joints, stiffness in the morning and bumps under the skin on the arms. People usually begin to feel symptoms in the smaller joints, such as the fingers and toes, before they spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis focuses on pain relief as well as early, aggressive treatment to slow the progression of the disease. Physical therapy helps improve function as you perform your daily activities. If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your physician may recommend the following treatments:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) to ease pain and inflammation
  • corticosteroids to get potentially damaging inflammation under control quickly
  • disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs—taken by mouth, self-injected or given by your physician as an infusion—to slow the progression of the disease
  • surgery to reduce pain, correct deformities or repair (or replace) damaged joints
  • physical therapy to keep your joints flexible and help you perform daily tasks with minimal pain

Though your joints may be painful, not moving them will only make your rheumatoid arthritis worse. We can work with you to improve your strength and flexibility in every muscle and joint group. After assessing your current condition, we will create an exercise plan that helps keep you functioning at your best.

If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis recently—or even if you have been living with it for years—call our office for an appointment. Using our extensive knowledge of how the muscles, bones and joints work together, we will create an individualized exercise plan for you that will keep your joints flexible and minimize pain both now and in the future.

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