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Rheumatic pain

Hands of the elderly woman close-up

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition which also affects the small joints.  Osteopathy can help with some symptoms at some phases of the illness.

Often the small hand and wrist joints will appear red and swollen and will be tender and painful because of the inflamed tissue and the production of excessive joint fluid.   The disease can affect the tendons as well, resulting in a characteristic ‘slant’ of the fingers where they connect to the hand.  Those with rheumatoid arthritis may experience fatigue, loss of appetite, aches in the muscles and joints and even a slight fever.

How can Rheumatoid Arthritis be helped?

Early intervention combined with aggressive management can reduce or slow joint damage and help ease joint pain.   There is some evidence that early aggressive anti inflammatory treatment can slow progression of the systemic effects, such as heart disease.  You can discuss this with your doctor.  Osteopathic treatment can help ease your pain and can be an important adjunct to your medical therapy.  Additionally your osteopath can recommend dietary modifications which may help reduce your propensity for flare ups.

The usual treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is anti-inflammatory medications, rest, exercises, gentle manual therapy and patient education.  Aspirin and steroids can be used to reduce inflammation as well as pain while specific disease modifying drugs encourage remission and help prevent joint deterioration.

Regular and proper exercise can help those with rheumatoid arthritis by maintaining mobility in their affected joints and strengthening the muscles that support the joints.  Swimming is highly recommended because it causes minimal stress on degenerated joints.   Hand pain and wrist pain can sometimes be relieved with temporary splints or braces, and hands on treatment in the upper arms can help as well.

If you have frequent hand pain, wrist pain or swollen joints you should come into the clinic.  I will work with you and your doctor to assist in alleviating your pain, improving how you function in your daily life, and minimising the effects of the disease.

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