Bearne, L. M., Scott, D. L., & Hurley, M. V. (2002). Exercise can reverse quadriceps sensorimotor dysfunction that is associated with rheumatoid arthritis without exacerbating disease. Rheumatology, 41, 157-166.
Muscle weakness is a common symptom of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and may contribute to a decreased ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL). In other joint conditions such as traumatic injury and osteoarthritis (OA), rehabilitation can improve muscle weakness caused by incomplete voluntary activation of muscles crossing the affected joint and decreased proprioceptive acuity. The influence of rehabilitation on these factors in RA has not been reported. Studies have confirmed that exercise can increase muscle strength in people with RA, but few have studied whether there is an accompanying improvement in functional performance and decreased disability. Further, most studies have use time-consuming and labor-intensive exercise programs that are not cost-effective or practical to replicate in the community. In addition, there is a fine balance of activity that will delay or reverse muscle atrophy and improve fitness but not cause joint damage typically evidenced by increased plasma concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The purpose of this study was to compare quadriceps sensorimotor function (weakness, voluntary activation, proprioceptive acuity) of healthy participants and participants with RA involving the lower limbs, examine the relationship between muscle dysfunction and lower limb function performance and disability, investigate the efficacy of a short, practical exercise program, and evaluate its effect on disease activity and plasma concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines.