How can Physiotherapy help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Autoimmune Disease, Chronic Pain, Blog, / By Koh Peh Chia

Living with any long-term condition may led to loss of fitness and even difficulty performing daily tasks. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be particularly troubling, with its impact on the joints as well as possible impact on the muscles. To manage the condition, keeping active and exercising becomes an important part of daily self-management for people with RA.

In today’s blog, we are going to share on how physiotherapy can help with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic and painful clinical condition that cause joint damage, disability, and deterioration in quality of life. Even minor inflammation might result in permanent and irreversible damage.

Physiotherapy Goals

1. To achieve pain relief

2. Prevent joint damage & range limitation

3. Increase functional capacity & prevent disability

Physiotherapy Treatments

1. Physiotherapy Modalities

  • Include cold/hot applications; cold for acute phase; heat for chronic phase and used before exercise.
  • Electrical stimulation, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which is used to relieve pain.
  • Hydrotherapy, exercise with minimal load on the joints.

2. Massage therapy

  • Improves flexibility, pain reduction, improves general well-being, and can help to diminish swelling of inflamed joints

3. Therapeutic exercise

  • Muscle weakness in patients with RA may occur due to immobilization or reduction in daily activities.
  • Physical exercise helps to improve general muscular strength, endurance and thus, increase the physical capacity of the patient.
  • Mobility exercises, stretching, strengthening, aerobic exercises, and routine daily activities may be used as components of exercise therapy.
  • Intensity of the exercise should be slowly progressed and based on compliance and condition of the patient.

4. Patient education

  • Information about their condition with the precautions and the different therapies disposed to improve their quality of life,
  • For examples, patients are taught how to protect the joints during routine daily life, by adjusting their movement-behaviors.

Due to the different stages and precautions of RA, we would recommend you to seek professional help to manage your condition. If you would like to book an appointment or have any more questions, feel free to contact us or message us through our Instagram page.

Yap Shi Qi

Rehab Therapist

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  1. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, 2019. The role of the Physiotherapist in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) | NRAS. [online] NRAS. Available at: <>.
  2. Kavuncu, V., & Evcik, D. (2004, May 17). Physiotherapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Available at:
  3. Physiopedia. (n.d.). Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available at:

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