Topic Overview

The purpose of physical therapy is to reduce pain and allow you to
continue daily activities. Physical therapy can reduce pain in the soft tissues
(such as the muscles, ligaments, and tendons), improve function, and build
muscle strength. A
physical therapist provides these treatments and will
also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.

Physical therapy techniques for
rheumatoid arthritis may include:

  • Stretching, to increase flexibility and reduce stress on
  • Education, to help you improve and maintain your
  • Exercise, to strengthen muscles.
  • Manual
    therapy, including massage, to improve or maintain range of motion.
  • Heat therapy, to improve blood circulation to the muscles and
    other soft tissues.
  • Ice therapy, to reduce swelling and relieve
  • Cycling and limited walking, to promote good physical
  • Water exercises, to allow your body to exercise
    without pressure on the spine.

Your doctor or physical therapist or both will design a
program specific to your normal level of activity, physical fitness, severity of pain, and disease activity.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH – Internal Medicine, Rheumatology

Current as ofOctober 10, 2017