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For Lupus Patients: What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

A P.T. Can Help with Lupus Symptoms Like Joint Pain and Stiffness

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Updated January 21, 2009

For Lupus Patients: What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

A physical therapist assists a patient with movement.

Carlos Davila/Getty Images

One of the primary symptoms of lupus is joint pain and arthritis. If you suffer from this, it is possible you will work with a physical therapist (PT) to help you restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disability because of the disease. The overall goal of the P.T. is to restore, maintain, and promote musculoskeletal fitness and health.

After examining your medical history, the physical therapist will test your strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function. From that, he or she will develop a treatment plan to help you overcome physical obstacles from the disease.

Treatment often includes exercise to increase flexibility and range of motion. More advanced exercises focus on improving strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. Your PT might also use electrical stimulation, hot packs or cold compresses, and ultrasound to relieve pain and reduce swelling, as well as massage, which can relieve pain and improve circulation and flexibility.

Licensed physical therapists should have a master’s degree from an accredited physical therapy program. PTs study biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as biomechanics, neuroanatomy, human growth and development, manifestations of disease, examination techniques, and therapeutic procedures.

Sources:Physical Therapists Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. January 2009

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