Medical Assistant Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Monday, 11 February 2019

 Medical assistants and physical therapists are very familiar with Rheumatoid Arthritis as one percent of the population in the United States suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA, an inflammatory disease that is  chronic.

 This affects the immune system, which then has a further disabling effect on the body and sufferers with RA have inflamed and painful joints that can occur on either side of the body.

An individual suffering from RA, can choose to enhance the quality of life by managing the symptoms, through the intervention of a medical assistant or a physical therapist assistant.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - An Explanation

Since thousands of medical assistants and physical therapy assistants help patients everyday with this condition, the first tip for medical assistants is to understand what Rheumatoid Arthritis is.

In RA, the immune system in the body attacks its tissues, and that is why it is called an autoimmune disease. The exact reason why RA affects bodies is not known, but there are a number of theories in existence that allow identification of people who can be affected by this disease.

These can be hormonal or environmental factors which can combine with genetic dispositions. Three times as many women get affected by RA as compared to men, and they are more likely to develop this disease. RA can begin at any age, but research indicates that it is more likely to start in middle age.

What Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Feel Like

For medical assistants it is also helpful to understand what their patients with RA feel like.

When medical assistants understand their patient’s experience, they are better able to treat it.

Symptoms of RA can flare up and then go into remission. It has been noted by researchers that symptoms and flare-ups can be eased if the disease is detected in its early stages and the proper treatment taken.

Patients with RA will experience:

  • Stiff joints that are most painful in the mornings
  • Joints on either side of the body being swollen and painful
  • General discomfort and a fatigued feeling
  • Fever
  • A loss in joint function
  • More frequent ankle sprains
  • Joint areas exhibiting tenderness, warmth and redness

Diagnosis of RA
Rheumatologists will be able to diagnose RA. This diagnosis is arrived at after blood tests and other factors like inflamed tissues in the joint lining and the number of joints  that exhibit symptoms. A physical therapist is  the first practitioner who can recognize the onset of RA, and will then guide the sufferer who exhibits these symptoms to a clinician who can order the required tests.
Help From a Physical Therapist or Medical Assistant
When your movements are restricted by rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapists can help you to maintain and improve functions. Your specific goals and needs will be addressed by the physical therapist.

Symptoms of RA and its signs can vary, which requires care for this disease also to be adaptable. Recommendations and care suggested by your physical therapist can include:

  • Aerobic Activities. Research has shown that exercises performed in a group and other programs to educate people affected by RA can help to increase their function and individual strengths.
  • Goal Oriented Exercise. When you achieve personal physical activity goals, research indicates that this helps to improve the quality of life and reduce pain for those who have RA.
  • Modalities. To help manage the symptoms of RA, a physical therapist can use modalities, like electrical and heat stimulation.
Additionally, PT’s can offer advanced treatment modalities. For example, a Physical Therapist can prepare a paraffin bath that can heat joints and relieve pain.

Is It Possible To Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There has never been a complete understanding of the causes of RA and its mechanisms. This makes it impossible to to predict its onset or prevent it from occurring.

If the symptoms are detected early through the signs that it exhibits, it is possible for medical providers to begin managing the disease so that your well being in the long term is better assured.

Once the disease is diagnosed, a physical therapist can work with you so that the symptoms are understood and strategies developed to manage them.

Education is the key to understand many conditions. Once you have this understanding of the mechanisms of RA, you will be able to recognize signs of its onset, early, and this can help to manage the condition that is causing swollen and painful joints and stiffness in the morning.

It is most important that you always keep moving. When you increase activity levels it will lead to a better quality of life and improved functions.

If you are experiencing rheumatoid arthritis, then tell us about your treatment experience in the comments below.
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