Researchers look to physical therapy to get arthritis patients moving


November 30, 2020 (VANCOUVER) – Counseling by a physical therapist has the potential to improve physical activity in people with inflammatory arthritis, according to an Arthritis Research Canada study.

Researchers recruited people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and involved them in an 8-week physical activity intervention.

This included an in-person session with 20 minutes of group education and 30 minutes of individual counseling with a physical therapist, use of a Fitbit wristband paired with an app developed by the research team, and four bi-weekly phone calls (20-30 minutes) with a physical therapist. Physical therapists guided participants to set goals, develop an action plan, and identify barriers and solutions to physical activity.

“While the research doesn’t prove this intervention will work for all people with inflammatory arthritis, we found a significant improvement in pain, which suggests it might have a positive effect on symptom management,” said Dr. Linda Li, a Senior Scientist of Clinical Epidemiology at Arthritis Research Canada.

Supporting a physically active lifestyle is an important part of self-care for people living with arthritis. It can reduce complications like cardiovascular conditions and has a positive effect on pain, sleep quality and fatigue.

The results of this study provide a foundation for further development of the intervention for individuals with inflammatory arthritis.


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Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information, to arrange an interview, or to obtain a copy of the research paper, please contact: 

Heather Caulder

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca


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