Nonpharmacological treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2011 May;23(3):259-64. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32834540fb.


Purpose of review: To summarize recent literature on nonpharmacological and nonsurgical interventions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Recent findings: Recent systematic reviews and individual studies substantiate the effectiveness of aerobic and strength exercise programmes in RA. The evidence for the promotion of physical activity according to public health recommendations is scarce, and implementation research found that the reach and maintenance of exercise or physical activity programmes in RA patients are suboptimal. For self-management interventions, characteristics that increase their effectiveness were identified, including the use of cognitive behavioural approaches and approaches derived from the self-regulation theory. A limited number of recent individual trials substantiate the effectiveness of comprehensive occupational therapy, foot orthoses, finger splints and wrist working splints, but not of wrist resting splints. Overall, the evidence for the effectiveness of assistive devices and dietary interventions is scanty.

Summary: For exercise and physical activity programmes and self-management interventions in RA, research is increasingly directed towards the optimization of their content, intensity, frequency, duration and mode of delivery and effective implementation strategies. A number of studies substantiate the effectiveness of comprehensive occupational therapy, wrist working splints and finger splints. More research into the effectiveness of assistive devices, foot orthoses and dietary interventions is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diet therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / rehabilitation
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Resistance Training
  • Self Care
  • Splints
  • Treatment Outcome