A variety of non-drug therapeutic techniques should be investigated by rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, as they may help restore some level of physical functions.
They may also provide respite from the physiologic or anatomic impairments, and environmental limitations, that are characteristic of the disease:
- Physical therapy can provide patients instruction and understanding on the use of various therapeutic and pain-relieving techniques to achieve joint mobility, function and strength, including heat, cold, traction, electromagnetic or electrical stimulation, exercise, stretching, transfer skills, and ambulation methods.
- Occupational therapy can help instruct patients in joint protection, energy conservation as part of activities of daily living, and providing adaptive equipment and assistive devices.
- Exercise can help increase strength and endurance, preserve bone mineralization, improve the ability for a patient to perform various activities of daily living, and improve overall feeling of well-being. This all depends on the stage and extremity of disease, and the patient’s overall medical condition. Exercise also helps maintain muscle bulk, which is quickly lost during periods of immobility.
Rest has become increasingly recognized as being important for reduce pain in inflamed joints.
Rest also conserves energy during periods of extreme fatigue, especially in cases where anti-inflammatory medication has proved ineffective in relieving symptoms. Rest is also a proactive/preventative measure for symptom management.