Physiotherapy co-management of rheumatoid arthritis: identification of red flags, significance to clinical practice and management pathways

Man Ther. 2013 Dec;18(6):583-7. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2013.01.006. Epub 2013 Feb 12.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease. Physiotherapy interventions for people with RA are predominantly targeted at ameliorating disability resulting from articular and peri-articular manifestations of the disease and providing advice and education to improve functional capacity and quality of life. To ensure safe and effective care, it is critical that physiotherapists are able to identify potentially serious articular and peri-articular manifestations of RA, such as instability of the cervical spine. Additionally, as primary contact professionals, it is essential that physiotherapists are aware of the potentially serious extra-articular manifestations of RA. This paper provides an overview of the practice-relevant manifestations associated with RA that might warrant further investigation by a medical practitioner (red flags), their relevance to physiotherapy practice, and recommended management pathways.

Keywords: Physiotherapy; Red flags; Rheumatoid arthritis; Safety.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index