Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the body’s joints. It is an autoimmune disease whereby the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own tissues. It is also considered a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms related to rheumatoid arthritis may worsen as time goes on. Rheumatoid arthritis often causes feelings of joint stiffness, pain, or general discomfort. Fortunately, rheumatoid arthritis now has a myriad number of treatment options to choose from. Many of therapy treatments do not necessarily involve the use of prescription medications. Here is a quick run-down on some of the newest and most popular treatment non-drug therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. They may be used alone, or in conjunction with each other.
Physical therapy: This is one of the most popular treatment therapies for rheumatoid arthritis. Physical therapy is efficacious in helping patients preserve their natural range of motion. In many cases, regular prescribed exercises can even improve range of motion substantially. Physical therapy can also help patient’s deal with muscle and joint stiffness, increase muscle strength, and reduce allover pain for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Relaxation therapy: Relaxation therapy is a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates several different therapies working toward a similar goal. The goal of relaxation therapy is to release muscle tension and joint rigidity to reduce the patient’s overall pain and discomfort. Relaxation therapy may involve the use of meditation, yoga, stretching exercises, Pilates, and any number of other techniques that may help relieve tension.
Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy is a fun and effective therapy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. It involves a series of water exercises, usually done in lukewarm water. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis report that the feeling of warm water helps reduce the pain associate with the disease. Moreover, several studies have shown that hydrotherapy is an effective therapy that helps reduce the weight and pressure on the joints. The warm water relaxes the muscles and helps reduce the feeling of stiffness. Hydrotherapy is also effective in helping patient’s maintain a healthy weight, which is particularly important for patients’ with rheumatoid arthritis. Many patients respond favorably to this therapy.
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy is used to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis learn how to use their body more efficiently. Working with an occupational therapist, the rheumatoid arthritis patient will learn how to go about everyday chores and tasks so that less tension is placed on the joints. Specially made splints are often used to help patients accomplish certain tasks without placing excess pressure on their joints. Patient and occupational therapist can work together to tackle the patient’s specific challenges. The occupational therapist can design specific exercises for the patient, and may train him or her to use special assistive devices.
Heat and cold therapies: These therapies take advantage of the effects of certain temperatures on the joints. Compresses, ultrasound devices, and warm wax may be used to apply heat to the joints. Ice packs may be used to apply cold temperatures to the affected areas. The efficacy of heat and cold therapies varies according to the patient.