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Orthopade. 2012 Jul;41(7):520-5. doi: 10.1007/s00132-012-1929-4.

[Physical therapy as part of a complex orthopedic rheumatology approach. Physiotherapy, cryotherapy, extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, local intra-articular joint injections].

[Article in German]

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Klinik für operative Rheumatologie und Orthopädie, Rheuma-Zentrum Bremen, Rotes-Kreuz-Krankenhaus Bremen gGmbH, St.-Pauli-Deich 24, 28199, Bremen, Deutschland.


In this review only some of the physical therapeutic options for treating chronic inflammatory diseases are discussed. These include a wide variety of procedures and should not exclusively be assessed using the criteria of evidence-based medicine because in most studies there was no blinding or for ethical reasons no placebo group was included. Nevertheless, these treatment options are quite essential as part of a multimodal treatment concept for patients with inflammatory joint diseases. The increasing interest in adjuvant therapeutic options emphasizes the need for further well designed studies concerning the effectiveness of physical therapy. Dynamic exercise is closely integrated into the treatment strategy for rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to a conditioning stimulus to joints and cartilage it is known that physical therapy is useful in preventing mechanisms of disease chronification. Locally applied and whole body cryotherapy leads to muscular relaxation resulting in a more effective treatment intensity of subsequent exercise. With extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) a new promising therapeutic approach is available. However, the evidence level is still weak when used for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Locally applied steroid injections still have a significant value when treating inflammatory synovial conditions.

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