Volunteers wanted for trial: Novel blood flow restriction training to alleviate rheumatoid arthritis pain

Researchers at the University of South Australia are conducting a novel exercise intervention trial in collaboration with Arthritis SA to improve the physical function and quality of life for people with rheumatoid arthritis, a painful and inflammatory joint disease affecting over 18 million people globally. The study explores the potential of Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training, a technique where individuals wear pressurised bands, similar to blood pressure cuffs, to slow blood flow to muscles while exercising. This method promotes muscle strength development without the need for heavy weights.

Rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common form of arthritis in Australia, can lead to joint pain, swelling, muscle loss, and reduced mobility. While medications can alleviate symptoms, they often fail to address muscle weakness and atrophy. Traditional resistance training can be challenging for those with rheumatoid arthritis due to pain, fatigue, and injury risk. BFR training offers an alternative solution and has been widely used in various clinical populations.

Dr Hunter Bennett provides an overview of the research they are conducting.

Exercise scientist, UniSA’s Dr Hunter Bennett says the research hopes to identify interventions that could improve the quality of life for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
“Rheumatoid arthritis can be a particularly debilitating disease. It’s caused by the immune system attacking healthy tissues, which leads to pain and swelling, joint degradation, and a loss of muscle mass and strength,” Dr Bennett said.

The study aims to determine whether BFR training can increase strength, mobility, and overall well-being for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. This technique’s low loads make it a feasible option for this patient group.

The research team is currently seeking individuals aged 45-75 with diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis to participate in the study, with the ultimate goal of providing a more effective and accessible intervention to enhance the lives of those living with this debilitating condition. To find out more, visit: https://unisasurveys.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8hUvkU3Y1qsj9VI


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