Assessment of a Sixteen-Week Training Program on Strength, Pain, and Function in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients.

Flint-Wagner HG, Lisse J, Lohman TG, Going SB, Guido T, Cussler E, Gates D, Yocum DE

The objective of this study was to assess the effects of a 16-week progressive, individualized, high-intensity strength training program on muscle strength, pain, and function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty-four RA patients receiving infliximab participated in a randomized controlled trial. The strength training (ST) group participated in a supervised program 3 times per week, and the control (C) group continued with standard of care as overseen by their rheumatologist. Assessments were completed at baseline and at weeks 8 and 16. Strength was measured by 3 repetition maximum (3RM), isometric hand dynamometer, and isokinetic dynamometer. A 100-mm visual analogue scale was used to assess pain. Functional performance was derived from a timed 50-foot walk and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index.

High-intensity strength training in RA patients with varying levels of disease activity and joint damage had a large, significant effect on strength, and led to improvements in pain and function, with additive patient benefits beyond the effect of their infliximab use.

J Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Mar 10, online article

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