Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease which affects the whole body.  The membranes surrounding joints and tendons become inflamed, leading to irritation and damage of the joint surface and nearby soft tissues.

Rheumatoid arthritis is usually diagnosed by a combination of clinical history and presentation, blood tests and x-rays.  Early diagnosis is vital to ensure treatment can start as soon as possible.

Symptoms can include:

  • Hot, swollen, painful, stiff joints
  • Joint and muscle stiffness in the morning
  • Reduced grip strength and function
  • Joint deformities
  • Reduced sensation related to nerve compression

Hand therapists are able to advise patients on how to look after their joints, with the aims of promoting function and preventing deformity.  Therapists can also provide advice about managing pain and the use of energy conservation techniques.  If necessary, your hand therapist will also fabricate custom-made splints for rest and pain relief or to provide functional support

Hand surgeons may be consulted regarding specific joint or soft tissue damage that may be helped with surgery or injection therapy including inflamed joints, tendons that have ruptured or damaged joints that require replacement with a prosthetic joint.

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