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Widley, Waterlooville, PO7 5AB

02392 215 050

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Key Facts about rheumatoid artritis (RA)

  • Women are three times more likely as men to have RA
  • Over 690,000 people in the UK have RA (that’s almost one in every hundred!)
  • Usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 40 and 60
  • About 1 in 4 people with RA do not realise that with proper treatment they can lead a full and active life.
  • 3 in 5 people have difficulty performing daily activities
  • 70% of people with RA have wrist and hand problems
  • 90% have symptoms in the foot

Data from National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition which can affect a number of joints in the body. Usually, the articular surface (lining) and synovium (fluid filled sac covering the joints surface) become inflamed which can then interfere with your normal hobbies or activities of daily living. The inflammation occurs as a result of the body’s immune system attacking various joints although the reason for this is not known. The inflammation may also affect the cartilage and the ligaments within a joint which can be very painful.

There are a number of symptoms that may be experienced if you have rheumatoid arthritis and these can vary at different times. Physiotherapy is a very effective way of reducing these symptoms and we have specialist physiotherapists that can provide you with a comprehensive treatment programme that is appropriate to meet your individual needs.

Potential symptoms may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling of certain joints
  • Stiffness which occurs especially in the mornings
  • Redness over the joints
  • Heat within the joints
  • Unable to carry out your normal activities of daily living
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Anaemia (reduced red blood cells)
  • Weight loss
  • Joint instability
  • Deformities
  • Rheumatoid nodules (lumps) over the joints

The most commonly affected joints are:

  • Shoulders
  • Wrists
  • Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints (knuckles)
  • Proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints of the hand (middle joints of fingers)
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints of the foot (middle joints of toes)

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience flare ups at different times and it is during those times that symptoms are most severe. Therefore it is important to develop an action plan with your physiotherapist that can help you manage your flare ups most effectively to allow you to remain as active as possible during these times.

How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?

There are a number of tests used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis and it is often the combined results of these tests that confirm the disease. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is important that you go to your GP as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis will provide a more effective treatment. The tests used include:

  • Blood tests
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound scanning
  • Number of symptoms

Once rheumatoid arthritis has been confirmed, it is important that you begin physiotherapy as soon as possible to optimise the management of your symptoms. We will provide you with a full assessment and comprehensive treatment programme including a home exercise programme to help you take control of your condition.

How will physiotherapy help with rheumatoid arthritis?

Physiotherapy can help manage and reduce your symptoms in a number of ways. Your physiotherapist will encourage you to take an active role in your treatment programme which will help you to work towards your goals. Physiotherapy can help in the following ways:

  • Pain control
  • Reduce inflammation and joint stiffness
  • Help you to return to your normal activities of daily living or sports
  • Reduce tiredness
  • Increase range of movement at joints
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Relaxation
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness levels

What physiotherapy will be used for rheumatoid arthritis?

There are a variety of physiotherapy options that can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The choice of treatment will depend on a number of reasons including your symptoms and the severity of the condition. Your physiotherapist will work with you to design an individually tailored programme to optimise your treatment and help you remain as active as possible. Potential physiotherapy treatments may include:

  • EMTT
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Cardiovascular activity (swimming, cycling)
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Range of movement exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Gentle mobilisation techniques


Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that mainly affects the joints of the shoulder, knee, wrist, hand and foot. The inflammation is caused by an attack of the body’s own immune system on the tissues in these joints. You may experience stiffness, swelling, tiredness and pain as symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Physiotherapy is an effective way to reduce these symptoms and helps promote self-management so you can keep doing all the activities of daily living that you usually do.

Booking your assessment & consultation couldn’t be easier:

Get In touch

Send a message to us, and we’ll get right back to you

Sue Wooster

Lead Receptionist

Susan (Sue), Receptionist; welcomes clients and co-ordinates appointments.

Sue has been with The Physiotherapy Centre team for a year now, previously 14 years with Portsmouth City Council as Business Support Officer.

In her spare time Sue loves to walk and has completed marathons: Moonlight Walk and Blenheim Palace, Abseiled Spinnaker Tower and did a Tandem 10,000 ft parachute jump; all for good causes.

She works on the adage ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to physical health.

Every day is different, and meeting so many people and sharing their experiences is a privilege and inspiration.

Prof. Elizabeth Barley


I am a Health Psychologist, Practitioner Psychologist and Registered General Nurse, working in private practice. I am a trained listener, therapist, mindfulness teacher and mentor.

I am a specialist in:

  • Helping people to cope with anxiety, depression, illness and with other life stresses.
  • Helping people to make lasting lifestyle changes.
  • Helping people to live well with illness.

I can help you to:

  • manage troublesome emotions such as depression, anxiety or stress
  • explore the emotional impact of life changes such as illness, disability or loss
  • cope with difficult symptoms, such as fatigue, pain, breathlessness, palpitations, menopause
  • adjust to living with illness, including cancer, long term conditions or health conditions without a clear medical diagnosis
  • make, and stick with, healthy life choices such as eating healthily, exercising and reducing alcohol intake
  • manage your time, work or studies better
  • explore what matters and how to change things for the better

Jeannette Small

MSK & Adolescent Practitioner

Jeannette graduated from Brunel University in 2003. She worked in the NHS for nearly 20 years before joining the team at The Physiotherapy Centre in January 2023. She has experience of assessing and treating a wide variety of MSK conditions in both adults and adolescents (12-18 year olds). She is a member of The Health and Care Professions Council (PH64711), The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists and The Association of Paediatric Chartered Physiotherapists (069415).

Jeannette was a very keen gymnast growing up, she coached for many years and she still loves to throw herself upside down when she gets the chance. She has had physiotherapy treatment following injuries of her own so is very aware of how debilitating it is physically and mentally. She is very aware that activity in childhood is extremely important to ensure good health into adulthood therefore Jeannette is passionate about supporting and guiding her patients back to activity in the safest way possible.

Jeannette has 2 young children so when she’s not working most of her time is spent running around after them. She loves to spend her time with family and friends and she is willing to try her hand at any activities.

Laura Holdway

Community & Home Practitioner

Laura, Community and Orthopaedic Physiotherapist, visits clients in their homes to provide rehabilitation at an early stage and specialises in treating Orthopaedic conditions.

Laura, who graduated from the University of Brighton in 2006, is delighted to return to The Physiotherapy Centre after spending the past 15 years within NHS acute hospitals. Prior to this current role, Laura was a Trauma and Orthopaedic Physiotherapy Team Leader managing a team of 12 people and leading with trauma management for the Trust.

Laura has a long-standing interest in the rehabilitation of those who have suffered a fractured hip as this type of debilitating injury can have such a negative effect on individuals’ lives. She enjoys the challenge of ensuring each client can achieve their optimal outcome and empowering them to take control over their recovery.

Outside of work, Laura enjoys spending time with her family; playing games, baking and going for walks with their cocker spaniel, Teddy. She likes to keep herself fit with different exercise classes and enjoys gardening to relax.

Cameron Hawley

Sports Therapist

Cameron, Sports Therapist, works with injury diagnosis, management and rehabilitation, with sport and non sports based injuries.  Cameron has only just started working with us, before joining us he worked in multiple private clinics, and working as a massage therapist most recently. Alongside this Cameron spent time in the NHS working at Petersfield community Hospital.

Cameron graduated from the University of Chichester with a BSc (Hons) in Sports Therapy, outside of sports therapy Cameron volunteered in the NHS as a non clinical vaccinator and helped with providing covid vaccinations.

Cameron is a keen sports player, playing football in his spare time on the weekend along with other sports like tennis and occasionally golf, alongside training regularly Cam understands the injuries that occur with an active lifestyle and understands how to work around and with these injuries.

Cameron believes in working to make a client happy and healthy within their body and helping teach to develop an understanding of their body and help develop confidence and knowledge to go about life without fear of injury or settling for pain.

hannah gray

Practice Manager

Hannah oversees the day to day running of the Practice with the help of the amazing admin team.

Hannah has been with the company for 7 months and prior to this she spent 5 year as a practice manager in the dental industry. Hannah has completed various courses in customer service and administration and is keen on streamlining business processes.

In Hannah’s spare time she is a Mother of 4 Children and loves days out and trips away with the family.

Hannah enjoys seeing the clients make progress in the centre and believes this is all down to the fantastic therapists we have who put their heart and soul into giving the best possible care.

Patrick sanford

Marketing & Sales Director

Patrick handles all the pretty stuff and things that make people notice us.  He has been with the company for around 10 years now. Prior to that, he spent 20 years as marketing manager at a bakery in Brighton – not putting the holes in the doughnuts! 

To his great surprise Patrick graduated from Luton University with a B.A. in Business & Marketing.  In his spare time, Patrick is a keen mountain biker and enjoys listening to great music (so he says).  He believes that challenges make life interesting, but overcoming those challenges makes life meaningful.

As a final word, Patrick is obsessed with ensuring that all our awesome clients receive the highest level of service and care and safest possible environment.