Rheumatoid Arthritis – Some Facts and Hope for Relief
Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects 1.3 million adults in the United States, is believed to be an autoimmune disease, resulting in the immune system attacking the tissues that line the joints.
It is three to five times more common in women than men so the prevalence in women seems to suggest that genetics and hormones may play some role in the cause. Abnormal immunity and environmental factors are also considered potential causes.
It usually occurs between the ages of 20 to 50; however, young children and the elderly can also develop rheumatoid arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis have an increased risk of mortality or death rate compared to the general population. Medical studies show that people with rheumatoid arthritis may live 10-15 years less than their healthy counterparts. Life expectancy is influenced by many factors though, including family history, overall health, and lifestyle choices.
Normally, the immune system protects the body from disease. In rheumatoid arthritis, something triggers the immune system to attack the joints and sometimes other organs. Some theories suggest that a virus or bacteria may alter the immune system, causing it to attack the joints. Some people have a genetic or inherited factor that makes them more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
There are certain signs and symptoms consistent with rheumatoid arthritis:
•Early symptoms of warmth, swelling, and pain often begin in small joints of the fingers, wrists, and feet.
•Affected joints are usually symmetrical (same joint on both sides of the body).
•Morning stiffness lasting at least an hour or more.
•Rheumatoid nodules(subcutaneous lumps) may be present.
•Joint deformities caused by cartilage, tendon, and ligament damage.
•Fatigue, loss of appetite, and low grade fever.
No two cases of rheumatoid arthritis are exactly alike and the disease course is unpredictable. Some patients experience a lot of pain, but their x-rays don’t reveal evidence of severe joint damage. Some patients have evidence of severe joint damage on x-ray but do not experience a lot of pain.
While there is no known cure, these alternative remedies can be helpful in controlling some of the symptoms:
1) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Our bodies can’t make omega-3s on their own, so we must obtain them through our diet.
There is reasonably strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may help people with rheumatoid arthritis. The results of over 13 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies involving a total of more than 500 people suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. One of the ways it appears to work is by decreasing the production of inflammatory chemicals.
Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are the richest food source of omega-3 fatty acids. But instead of eating more fish which contain mercury, PCBs, and other chemicals, fish oil capsules are considered a cleaner source of omega-3 fatty acids. Many companies filter their fish oil so that these chemicals are removed.
2) Gamma-linolenic Acid
Some studies suggest that gamma-linoleic acid, another type of essential fatty acid, may also help. It is found in borage oil, black currant seed oil, and evening primrose oils.
Boswellia is an herb that comes from a tree native to India. The active ingredients are the boswellic acids, which have been found to block chemical reactions involved in inflammation. Boswellia doesn’t appear to cause gut irritation that can occur with many conventional pain relievers.
At The Healthy Choice, we specialize in pain management through prescription transdermal medications as well as pharmaceutical grade natural supplements. Call or visit us for more information on how we can help you trade in your discomfort for a better quality of life.