What is Rheumatoid Arthritris?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system – which normally protects its health by attacking foreign substances like bacteria and viruses – mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of joints (the synovium) to thicken, resulting in swelling and pain in and around the joints. The synovium makes a fluid that lubricates joints and helps them move smoothly.
If inflammation goes unchecked, it can damage cartilage, the elastic tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint, as well as the bones themselves. Over time, there is loss of cartilage, and the joint spacing between bones can become smaller. Joints can become loose, unstable, and painful and lose their mobility. Joint deformity also can occur. Joint damage cannot be reversed, and because it can occur early, doctors recommend early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to control RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles. The joint effect is usually symmetrical. That means if one knee or hand if affected, usually the other one is, too. Because RA also can affect body systems, such as the cardiovascular or respiratory systems, it is called a systemic disease. Systemic means “entire body.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disorder the causes of which are not completely understood. It is a systemic (whole body) disorder principally affecting synovial tissues. There is no evidence that physical and emotional effects or stress could be a trigger for the disease. The many negative findings suggest that either the trigger varies, or that it might in fact be a chance event inherent with the immune response.
Half of the risk for RA is believed to be genetic. It is strongly associated with the inherited tissue type major histo compatibility complex (MHC) antigen HLA-DRB1 (most specifically the shared epitope alleles, including *0401 and *0404), and the genes PTPN22 and PADI4—hence family history is an important risk factor. Inheriting the PTPN22 gene has been shown to double a person’s susceptibility to RA. PADI4 has been identified as a major risk factor in people of Asian descent, but not in those of European descent. First-degree relatives’ prevalence rate is 2–3% and disease genetic concordance in monozygotic twins is approximately 15–20%.
Smoking is the most significant non-genetic risk with RA being up to three times more common in smokers than non-smokers, particularly in men, heavy smokers, and those who are rheumatoid factor positive. Modest alcohol consumption may be protective.
Epidemiological studies have confirmed a potential association between RA and two herpes virus infections: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV-6). Individuals with RA are more likely to exhibit an abnormal immune response to EBV and have high levels of anti-EBV antibodies.
Vitamin D deficiency is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis than in the general population. However, whether vitamin D deficiency is a cause or a consequence of the disease remains unclear. 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25D), an active metabolite of vitamin D, affects bone metabolism indirectly through control of calcium and phosphate homeostasis. Interaction between 1,25D and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) affects the production of RANKL and delays osteoclastogenesis. Some trials have found a decreased risk for RA with vitamin D supplementation while others have not.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
In the early stages, people with RA may not initially see redness or swelling in the joints, but they may experience tenderness and pain.
These following joint symptoms are clues to RA:
- Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer
- Morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer
- More than one joint is affected
- Small joints (wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet) are affected
- The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
Along with pain, many people experience fatigue, loss of appetite and a low-grade fever.
The symptoms and effects of RA may come and go. A period of high disease activity (increases in inflammation and other symptoms) is called a flare. A flare can last for days or months.
Ongoing high levels of inflammation can cause problems throughout the body. Here of some ways RA can affect organs and body systems:
- Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
- Dryness and gum irritation or infection
- Rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
- Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
- Blood Vessels. Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
- Anemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells
Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis
A primary care physician may suspect RA based in part on a person’s signs and symptoms. If so, the patient will be referred to a rheumatologist – a specialist with specific training and skills to diagnose and treat RA. In its early stages, RA may resemble other forms of inflammatory arthritis. No single test can confirm RA. To make a proper diagnosis, the rheumatologist will ask questions about the personal and family medical history perform a physical exam and order diagnostic tests.
The doctor will ask about personal and family medical history as well as recent and current symptoms (pain, tenderness, stiffness, difficulty moving).
The doctor will examine each joint, looking for tenderness, swelling, warmth and painful or limited movement. The number and pattern of joints affected can also indicate RA. For example, RA tends to affect joints on both sides of the body. The physical exam may reveal other signs, such as rheumatoid nodules or a low-grade fever.
The blood tests will measure inflammation levels and look for biomarkers such as antibodies (blood proteins) linked with RA.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR, or “sed rate”) and C-reactive protein (CRP) level are markers of inflammation. A high ESR or CRP is not specific to RA, but when combined with other clues, such as antibodies, helps make the RA diagnosis.
Rheumatoid factor (RF) is an antibody found in about 80 percent of people with RA during the course of their disease. Because RF can occur in other inflammatory diseases, it’s not a sure sign of having RA. But a different antibody – anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) – occurs primarily in patients with RA. That makes a positive anti-CCP test a stronger clue to RA. But anti-CCP antibodies are found in only 60 to 70 percent of people with RA and can exist even before symptoms start.
An X-ray, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging scan may be done to look for joint damage, such as erosions, a loss of bone within the joint and narrowing of joint space. But if the imaging tests don’t show joint damage that doesn’t rule out RA. It may mean that the disease is in an early stage and hasn’t yet damaged the joints.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Self care, or self management, means taking a proactive role in treatment and maintaining a good quality of life. Here are some ways you can manage RA symptoms (along with recommended medication) and promote overall health.
Anti-inflammatory Diet and Healthy Eating
While there is no specific “diet” for RA, researchers have identified certain foods that are rich in antioxidants and can help control and reduce inflammation. Many of them are part of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fish, vegetables, fruits and olive oil, among other healthy foods. It’s also important to eliminate or significantly reduce processed and fast foods that fuel inflammation.
Balancing Activity with Rest
Rest is important when RA is active and joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Rest helps reduce inflammation and fatigue that can come with a flare. Taking breaks throughout the day conserves energy and protects joints.
For people with RA, exercise is so beneficial it’s considered a main part of RA treatment. The exercise program should emphasize low-impact aerobics, muscle strengthening and flexibility. The program should be tailored to fitness level and capabilities, and take into account any joint damage that exists. A physical therapist can help to design an exercise program.
Heat and Cold Therapies
Heat treatments, such as heat pads or warm baths, tend to work best for soothing stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold is best for acute pain. It can numb painful areas and reduce inflammation.
These treatments are applied directly to the skin over the painful muscle or joint. They may be creams or patches. Depending on the type used, it may contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), salicylates or capsaicin , which help reduce pain.
Natural and Alternative Therapies
Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery and visualization can help train painful muscles to relax. Research shows massage can help reduce arthritis pain improve joint function and ease stress and anxiety. Acupuncture may also be helpful. This involves inserting fine needles into the body along special points called “meridians” to relieve pain. Those who fear needles might consider acupressure, which involves applying pressure, instead of needles, at those points.
Studies have shown that turmeric and omega-3 fish oil supplements may help with rheumatoid arthritis pain and morning stiffness. However, talk with a doctor before taking any supplement to discuss side effects and potential interactions.
Positive Attitude and Support System
Many studies have demonstrated that resilience, an ability to “bounce back,“ encourages a positive outlook. Having a network of friends, family members and co-workers can help provide emotional support. It can help a patient with RA cope with life changes and pain.
Homeopathic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis is systemic disorder and not a local joint disease. It is evident that numerous factors such as genetics, systemic, emotional, physical and environmental factors trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis by destabilization of the immune system.
The treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis may vary from cases to case – some requiring short-term whereas others requiring long term treatment. The duration of treatment depends on various factors such as the severity, duration and extent of the illness, nature of treatment taken for the same and general health of the patient.
Meet our experts today to know more about the Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment and how you too can live a pain-free life after Welling Homeopathy treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Common Homeopathy medicines for Rheumatoid Arthritis are
Arnica: Useful for chronic arthritis with a feeling of bruising and soreness. The painful parts feel worse from being moved or touched.
Bryonia: Helpful for stiffness and inflammation with tearing or throbbing pain, made worse by motion. The condition may have developed gradually, and is worse in cold dry weather. Discomfort is aggravated by being touched or bumped, or from any movement. Relief can be had from pressure and from rest. The person may want to stay completely still and not be interfered with.
Calcarea carbonica: Helpful for deeply aching arthritis involving node formation around the joints. Inflammation and soreness are worse from cold and dampness, and problems may be focused on the knees and hands. Common symptoms are: weakness in the muscles, easy fatigue from exertion, and a feeling of chilliness or sluggishness. The person who benefits from Calcarea is often solid and responsible, but tends to become extremely anxious and overwhelmed when ill or overworked.
Aurum metallicum: This remedy is often prescribed for wandering pains in the muscles and joints that are better from motion and warmth, and worse at night. The person may experience deep pain in the limbs when trying to sleep. Also may feel discomfort that may wake the person up. People who need this remedy have a tendency to feel depressed.
Causticum: Useful when deformities develop in the joints, in a person with a tendon problems, muscle weakness, and contractures. The hands and fingers may be most affected.. Stiffness and pain are worse from being cold, and relief may come with warmth. The person often feels best in rainy weather and worse when the days are clear and dry.
Calcarea fluorica: Helpful when arthritic pains improve with heat and motion. Joints become enlarged and hard, and nodes or deformities develop. Arthritis after chronic injury to joints also responds to Calcarea fluorica.
Dulcamara: Indicated if arthritis flares up during cold damp weather. The person gets chilled and wet. They are often stout, with a tendency toward back pain, chronic stiffness in the muscles, and allergies.
Kali bichromicum: This is useful when arthritic pains alternate with asthma or stomach symptoms. Pains may suddenly come and go, or shift around. Discomfort and inflammation are aggravated by heat and worse when the weather is warm.
Kali carbonicum: Arthritis with great stiffness and stitching pains, worse in the early morning hours and worse from cold and dampness, may respond to Kali carbonicum. The joints may be becoming thickened or deformed.
Kalmia latiflora: Useful for intense arthritic pain that flares up suddenly. The problems start in higher joints and extend to lower ones. Pain and inflammation may begin in the elbows, spreading downward to the wrists and hands. Discomfort is worse from motion and often worse at night.
Ledum palustre: Arthritis that starts in lower joints and extends to higher ones are candidate for this remedy. Pain and inflammation often begin in the toes and spread upward to the ankles and knees. The joints may also make cracking sounds. Ledum is strongly indicated when swelling is significant and relieved by cold applications.
Pulsatilla: Applicable when rheumatoid arthritis pain is changeable in quality, or when the flare-ups move from place to place. The symptoms (and the person) feel worse from warmth, and better from fresh air and cold applications. Can benefit people who are emotional and affectionate, sometimes having teary moods.
Rhododendron: Strongly indicated if swelling and soreness flare up before a storm, continuing until the weather clears. Cold and dampness aggravate the symptoms. Discomfort is often worse toward early morning, or after staying still too long.
Rhus toxicodendron: Useful for rheumatoid arthritis, with pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning and worse on first motion, but better from continued movement. Hot baths or showers, and warm applications improve the stiffness and relieve the pain. The condition is worse in cold, wet weather. The person may feel extremely restless, unable to find a comfortable position, and need to keep moving constantly. Continued motion also helps to relieve anxiety.
Ruta graveolens: Arthritis with a feeling of great stiffness and lameness, worse from cold and damp and worse from exertion, may be helped by Ruta graveolens. Tendons and capsules of the joints can be deeply affected or damaged. The arthritis may have developed after overuse, from repeated wear and tear.
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