What is Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease – a disease process where tissues that surround and cushion the joints are attacked by the body’s own immune system. As a result, the cartilage, bone and ligaments around the joint begin to deteriorate and form scar tissue.
A healthy joint is surrounded by a joint capsule, which contains synovial fluid – a clear liquid that helps lubricate and nourish the cartilage and bone within the capsule. The synovium is the tissue that lines the joint capsule. In rheumatoid arthritis, the cells in the immune system attack the synovium, causing inflammation, redness, swelling and pain. As the disease progresses, the cells invade and destroy the surrounding cartilage and bone, weakening the muscles, tendons and ligaments that help support and stabilize the joint, causing pain, swelling, stiffness and a loss of function.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the whole body, not just isolated joints. Women are affected almost three times as often as men. Rheumatoid arthritis typically occurs between the ages of 25 and 50, but it can strike at any age.
Causes and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Autoimmune reactions may be triggered by infection, tissue injury, poor gut health, or emotional trauma/chronic stress in people with a genetic predisposition to them.
- Swollen, warm, painful joints, particularly after awakening or after long periods of inactivity.
- Fatigue, occasional fever.
- Inflammation occurring in a symmetrical pattern – if one wrist is involved the other will be also.
- Typically, the small joints in the hands, fingers, feet, toes, wrists, elbows and ankles will be affected first.
- As the disease progresses, the joints will become deformed and may freeze in one position, making it difficult to move them.
The symptoms vary quite a bit from person to person. Some may have symptoms that last only a few months and then disappear; others may have a moderate form of rheumatoid arthritis where symptoms come and go. Finally, there are those who develop a severe form of the disease where it is active most of the time, and eventually leads to joint damage and debilitation.
Fortunately, rheumatoid arthritis can be managed successfully using natural approaches, without the negative side effects that corticosteroids have when used long-term.
Suggested Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes can moderate autoimmunity, and other strategies can help you control the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
The following recommendations may be of benefit:
- Get regular aerobic exercise (swimming is best for those with rheumatoid arthritis).
- Practice relaxation techniques. In addition, visualization can help moderate autoimmune responses and psychotherapy can help you change emotional states that keep the immune system off balance.
- Avoid health-care practitioners who make you feel pessimistic about your condition.
- Attempt to reduce intake of coffee and tobacco as both have been linked to an increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
- Practice keeping a journal of your daily emotions, experiences and symptoms. This very simple activity has proven benefits for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Some Nutrition and Herb Suggestions
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold-water fish, walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds. You may also want to consider taking a fish oil supplement to help keep your protein intake low.
- Increase fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) as they are rich in antioxidants and reduce oxidative stress
- Attempt to avoid milk and milk products, including commercial foods made with milk as these are highly allergenic foods.
- Attempt to avoid gluten as it can lead to leaky gut and increase autoimmunity
- Avoid margarine, vegetable shortening and products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind. Trans fats create more inflammation in the body.
- Some anti-inflammatory herbs such as Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew), green tea, ginger and turmeric may be of benefit.
Each case is unique. Each case requires a detailed investigation and assessment in order to design the most effective protocol. In order for you to understand the needs of your body and mind, and be empowered to make changes.
If you are ready to embark on the journey to a more vital you and support the wisdom of the body with the healing elements, please call 9879 9596 to make an appointment.
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