oa South African Family Practice - Healthy lifestyle interventions in general practice : part 11 : lifestyle and arthritic conditions - rheumatoid arthritis : CPD

Volume 52, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes symmetrical polyarthritis of large and small joints. RA affects about 0.5-1% of the population and is more common in females than males. In recent years, it has been increasingly recognised that early diagnosis and management of RA is important to prevent joint destruction, which has been shown to occur early on in the disease process. The primary effects of the disease on joints and muscles, together with physical inactivity, usually result in diminished joint range of motion, muscle weakness, decreased endurance performance, depression, poor cardiovascular health and osteoporosis. The principles of management of RA should include non-pharmacological and pharmacological management. Non-pharmacological modalities (including lifestyle interventions) are well recognised as important components of the treatment of early arthritis, including RA. The main lifestyle interventions for RA are physical exercise, dietary intervention, psychological intervention and education. The guidelines for these lifestyle interventions in patients with RA are reviewed.

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