The physiotherapist’s (PT) role in the management of patients with Rheumatic disease is to work in partnership with the patient to enable them to achieve and maintain optimal function and independence. For many patients this will involve taking an active role in family, work and social lives.

Physiotherapists in Rheumatology will carry out detailed patient assessments to:

  • identify how a patient’s condition affects them physically and to what degree an individuals function is affected including mobility, posture etc
  • examine the musculoskeletal system to get a baseline of a patient’s current status
  • consider other body systems i.e. neurology, cardiovascular
  • any special equipment requirements such as walking aids, modified footwear, splint requirements
  • the patient’s current self management and coping strategies
  • the need for physiotherapeutic interventions

The PT discusses assessment findings with the patient and, in conjunction with them, devises a goal orientated treatment plan. This may include pain management with the use of ice, heat, electrotherapy and hydrotherapy. The patient can then progress on to other treatment approaches including: range of movement and muscle strengthening exercises, improving mobility, and posture re-education.

The PT may provide education on their condition for the patient and guides them on self-management of their condition long term. This then enables the patient to modify their exercise programme according to their disease activity. Education of family and carers is also an important part of the PTs role.