Many people confuse rheumatoid arthritis with osteoarthritis. Whereas osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints and connective tissues around the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects more than just your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can also impact multiple other parts of the body including the eyes, skin, lungs, heart, blood vessels, and nerves. Around 2% of Australians suffer from this autoimmune disease, and it can manifest in different ways. That’s why it is important to know the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis so that you can look for treatment early on and prevent worsening of the condition.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
A healthy immune system typically fights off viruses, bacteria, and other bodily intruders. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system starts attacking the tissues of your body, mistaking your cells for foreign and potentially harmful invaders. It can cause quite a lot of pain and inflammation in the body, resulting in the following symptoms:
- Pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints
- Stiffness in the joints that is worsened by inactivity (in the mornings and after being seated or still)
- Weakness especially on the fingers and hands
- Multiple joints affected
- Loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Dry and sensitive eyes
- Dry and irritated mouth
- Lumps under skin around joints (rheumatoid nodules)
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary greatly person to person. Some experience only mild symptoms, and others suffer quite intense discomfort or pain. During flare-ups, symptoms are worse as your immune system attacks your own cells and discharges inflammatory chemicals that target the fluid around your joints.
Causes For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unfortunately, the cause for development of rheumatoid arthritis has not been confirmed. Researchers and doctors suspect that there may be a genetic component that makes some people more susceptible to certain viruses and bacteria that could trigger the onset of the disease. Endurance of emotional or physical stress may also contribute to its progression. There are some factors that have been linked to increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, such as:
- Gender – women have been found to be more likely to develop the disease
- Age – while the disease is seen across all ages, it develops more frequently in middle-aged people
- Weight – being overweight is suggested to pose a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis
If you are experiencing the above symptoms, it is crucial to seek diagnosis as soon as possible so that you can begin treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. There are a few tests to obtain an accurate diagnosis. These tests can include:
- Blood tests – Especially for inflammation and rheumatoid factor markers
- Physical examinations
Once you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the main objective for treatment is to alleviate symptoms and prevent future flare-ups.
Natural Treatment For Rheumatoid Arthritis
As with any autoimmune disease, there is unfortunately no established cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are a number of treatments available that can reduce symptoms, flare-ups, inflammation, and damage to your joints and organs.
Research shows that naturopathy can be an effective natural treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Naturopathy takes a holistic approach to treatment, focusing on reducing and preventing inflammation. There are many herbs which have potent pain relieving properties as well as being naturally anti-inflammatory. Taking natural anti-inflammatories are a low risk, low side effect solutions o managing pain. They can also be used in conjunction with medicine from your doctor. There are also many nutritional substances such as Fish Oils, Glucosamine, MSM, Bovine Cartilage etc. which can help reduce joint pain, stiffness and improve mobility.
Did you know that over 60% of your immune system is located in or associated to your gut? Focusing on gut health can directly impact your autoimmune condition. Eliminating foods that you may be intolerant to can also have a significant impact on your inflammation and pain levels. We recommend focusing on improving your microbiome health to reduce inflammation. Visit our gut health blog post to learn more. There are also probiotics available that help to regulate the gut and reduce autoimmune flare ups.
Losing weight can significantly health reduce pain, inflammation and pressure on your joints. If you are overweight, weight loss can be a quick and easy way to improve your health. For example, losing 10kg will reduce 50kg of pressure off your knees. Capalaba Natural Health has helped thousands of people lose weight and one of the most significant benefits is their reduced pain, reduce inflammation and improved quality of life. We can offer both in-house food intolerance testing and we specialise in weight loss. Addressing both of these areas will have a quick and immediate impact on your overall health and your symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Finding a health professional who you trust to develop a personalised treatment plan for you, should be your first step. At Capalaba Natural Health, we take your needs, lifestyle, diet, and history into consideration when developing your treatment plan. To book your naturopathy consultation and learn more about how naturopathy can treat rheumatoid arthritis naturally, contact us here or call us on 07 3823 3103.