Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition, which means that it affects multiple joints. RA affects the cells that line and normally lubricate the joints (synovial membrane tissue). The joint lining (synorium) becomes inflamed and swollen and may stretch out surrounding ligaments that hold the bones together, resulting in deformity and instability. The inflammation may also spread to the tendons which can result in tears (ruptures) in the tendons. RA of the hand is most common in the wrist and finger knuckles.
Physical Therapy Treatment Plan: After careful evaluation by the physical therapist, the first step in treating this condition is to reduce pain and inflammation by supporting/protecting the joints of the hand and wrist.
Treatments may include warm soaks, paraffin wax, supportive splint fabrication, gentle range of motion to maintain flexibility, and education pertaining to joint protection techniques.
After your initial prescription for physical therapy is completed, your physician and physical therapist will decide if you need to continue physical therapy or if you will be discharged to a home exercise program.
This information is provided as a learning resource for the benefit of our patients. It is NOT INTENDED to replace personal consultation with your medical professionals.