The Effects Blood Flow Restriction Therapy Augmented with Low-Intensity Exercise on Improving Chronic Pain and Functional Status in Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Date of Award

Spring 2-27-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Kinesiology (EdD)



First Advisor

Brian Serrano

Second Advisor

Steve Ross

Third Advisor

Illana Livstrom


Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) commonly experience chronic pain and functional limitations, which are often accompanied by comorbidities, including depression, fatigue, obesity, and heart disease. While exercise has been identified as an effective, low-cost treatment for these conditions, chronic pain, and limited functionality can pose significant obstacles for those diagnosed with these conditions. Recent research has investigated the potential of blood flow restriction therapy (BFRT) in rehabilitating musculoskeletal injuries and enhancing skeletal muscle properties. The objective of this 6-week study is to examine the potential impact BFRT combined with low-intensity exercise on chronic pain and physical function in adults diagnosed with RA or OA. The following study presents an intervention for patients with RA and OA who underwent a treatment protocol of BFRT alongside low-intensity exercise. The 4-week intervention involved performing bodyweight exercises while using a cuff set at 50% limb occlusion pressure. Physical function was assessed using the 30-second sit-to-stand test and the hand grip strength test (HGS), while bodily pain was measured using the Short Form 36 (version 2) Bodily Pain Scale (SF-36v2® BPS). Mean baseline and post-study HGS, STS30, and SF-36v2® BPS scores were compared. Post-study results indicated that bodily pain improved (104.9%), grip strength scores improved, and STS30 scores remained unchanged. BFRT combined with low-intensity exercise may enhance grip strength and reduce pain in individuals with OA and RA.

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