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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the joints and sometimes other parts of the body. The cause of RA remains unknown.
The most common symptom of RA is joint pain and morning joint stiffness. Several joints on both sides of the body are usually affected, especially those of the hands, wrists, knees, and feet. Affected joints may feel warm or appear swollen. People with RA may have other symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, weight loss, and, occasionally, fever.
Although exercise may initially increase pain, gentle exercises help people with RA.1, 2 Women with RA taking low-dose steroid therapy can safely participate in a weight-bearing exercise program with many positive effects on physical function, activity and fitness levels, and bone mineral density, and with no aggravation of disease activity.3 Many doctors recommend swimming, stretching, or walking to people with RA.
The role of manipulation in managing RA has received little study. In one small controlled trial,4 patients with RA were found to have more tenderness at certain body locations compared to healthy people. Six minutes of gentle spinal manipulation decreased this tenderness temporarily in the spinal areas but not in areas around the knees or ankles. The effect of manipulation on the symptoms or progression of RA has not been investigated.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.