Person-centred chronic fatigue therapy gives best results

chronic fatigue

Physical therapy for those suffering with chronic fatigue related to rheumatoid arthritis works best when it is personalised, a small Swedish study suggests. 

Over a 12-week period, 36 participants worked with a physical therapist to come up with a programme of exercises and activities aimed at them specifically. 

This was on top of the usual care for their condition. 

A second group of 34 patients didn’t get the personalised treatment – just the regular care.

Overall improvements

The University of Gothenburg research team followed up with the patients after a period of 6 weeks to check levels of fatigue, disease activity, health and functional outcomes. 

Fatigue levels for those who received the specialised treatment had improved. 

The physical therapy also had a positive impact on anxiety levels. 

Improvements were also noted in leg strength and endurance, and their capacity for physical activity. 

These improvements mean patients are less tired during everyday activities, giving them the chance to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle.  

Fatigue can come without warning

Dr Katherine Free, research liaison and communications manager from Arthritis Research UK, says fatigue in those with rheumatoid arthritis often comes without warning.

Physical activity is a good way to tackle the fatigue and help patients improve their ability to do everyday activities, Dr Free adds.

The personalised approach helps patients find a balance between resting and exercise.

Arthritis Research UK, which is funding similar research, welcomed the study as it shows how targeted programmes of exercise can improve the quality of life for with certain forms of inflammatory arthritis.

The research was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


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