Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which differs from osteoarthritis, is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of your organ systems, most likely in your joints. The inflammatory process of RA causes excess synovial fluid and fibrous tissue to develop around the joints, causing destruction of your cartilage and joint tissues and the formation of scar tissue. Severe RA can lead to extreme pain, deformity, and reduced joint mobility. Symptoms vary, but typically affect your fingers, wrists, knees, ankles and toes. RA can start gradually, or may come on suddenly causing flu-like symptoms, and joint pain with stiff, swollen joints. Other symptoms may include pleurisy (chest pain while breathing), dry, burning or itchy eyes, sleep disorders, or numbness and tingling sensations in your hands and/or feet.
The cause of this autoimmune disease is unknown, but may be affected by genetic predisposition, gender (more women are affected than men), infection, and hormonal changes.
While there is no definitive test to determine whether or not you have RA, your doctor can test for the rheumatoid factor, but a negative test does not rule out the disease. Other blood tests may be required, along with potential X-rays and CT scans. Conventional treatment usually involves lifelong medications such as anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory drugs, plus recommended physical therapy and education programs. Surgery may be required in severe cases.
How can natural medicine treat rheumatoid arthritis?
Proper diet modification, including adding more fish and fish oil to your daily eating habits, can help greatly reduce your symptoms of RA. Acupuncture and TCM can help reduce your pain and your stress, as can osteopathy and/or massage therapy. Even chiropractic care or physiotherapy may be able to help.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent or manage your symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
These links may also be helpful: