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The role of the physiotherapist working in rheumatology is to help you improve and maintain your daily activities and keep independence in your work and home life. This is often achieved by increasing the joint movement and reducing stiffness and strengthening muscles that are affected by arthritis.

At the first appointment the physiotherapist will ask you some questions and physically examine your joints and muscles to find out what problems you’re having. This will help them get an understanding of what you want to achieve from the treatment and set goals. Examples of goals could be returning to work, playing with your children/grandchildren or walking your dog. It’s helpful to think of your own goals before you see the physiotherapist.

The physiotherapist will then work with you to help you understand what is happening to your joints and devise a treatment plan. This may include:

  • A home exercise program for your affected joints and muscles
  • Advice on pain relief
  • Advice on general exercises and improving your fitness
  • Walking and balance assessment and provision of walking aids, if needed.
  • General advice on managing arthritis including pacing and improving sleep
  • Flare management advice

The aims of the sessions are to give you the reassurance and confidences that you can manage your condition long-term and continue with you to do your daily activities.

Physiotherapists and occupational therapists often work closely together to provide care for people with rheumatology conditions. You may see them both at the same appointment. We try to make sure you see the same physiotherapist at every appointment.

You may see the physiotherapist when you are first diagnosed, if problems occur throughout the course, or if you simply want advice on what exercise is appropriate to do with your arthritis.

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