While medical advances in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have led to improvements in disease control and quality of life for patients worldwide, the rate for stable remission remains low.1 Management of RA symptoms is traditionally accomplished through a combination of medications and nonpharmacological interventions.2 This approach can prevent the development of secondary adverse health outcomes.
Explore this issueNovember 2017
Two common nonpharmacologic interventions are physical therapy and physical activity. The scientific evidence for these interventions continues to grow. However, not all medical providers are aware of the benefits of physical therapy and physical activity, nor do they know when to prescribe physical therapy.2,3
When it comes to physical therapy, physiotherapists (PTs) provide insightful knowledge. PTs rely on physical (e.g., functional, range of motion, muscle strength, or postural) and behavioristic assessments (e.g., behaviors associated with fear-avoidance beliefs) when tailoring interventions to increase bodily function or physical activity in general.2,4-6 When a home-exercise program is prescribed, 50–65% of patients fail to adhere to the program. The presence of pain, low levels of physical activity and low self-efficacy are believed to create barriers between the patient and the desired treatment goal of increased physical activity.7,8