Physical activity recommended for fatigue in inflammatory arthritis
When we are fatigued, taking exercise feels like an impossibility. Just walking across the room to the bathroom is an effort; donning a pair of trainers and trudging around the block – let alone going for a swim – is simply out of the question.
Yet increasing evidence shows that’s exactly what we must force ourselves to do, in order to counter the physical and mental lethargy that fatigue presents. And little by little, we will see the positive effects.
“Fatigue is prevalent in people with [inflammatory rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (I-RMDs)] and is one of the most challenging symptoms to cope with due to its invisible, pervasive and unpredictable nature,” explains Dr Emma Dures in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Until now, however, there have been no recommendations to support people with inflammatory arthritis, or the healthcare professionals trying to help them.
So a European task force has analysed the evidence, studies and research and come up with a plan:
- Healthcare professionals should incorporate regular assessment of fatigue severity, impact and coping strategies into clinical consultations;
- As part of their clinical care, people with inflammatory rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases and fatigue should be offered access to tailored physical activity interventions and encouraged to engage in long-term physical activity;
- Providers should offer access to structured and tailored psychoeducational interventions to patients with fatigue as part of their clinical care;
- And the presence or worsening of fatigue should trigger evaluation of inflammatory disease activity status and consideration of immunomodulatory treatment initiation or change, if clinically indicated.
The team concludes that “fatigue is a long-term challenge for many people with inflammatory musculoskeletal diseases, so access to support should be reviewed regularly.”
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