What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a condition that is known as chronic inflammatory auto-immune reaction, that affects the whole body. Typically the joints in the hands, the wrists, the knees, ankles and feet. It’s a condition affects more women than men, and tends to begin at the age of 20-40 years old. RA is usually gradual but rarely it can be abrupt. RA is a bilateral condition so affects both sides of the body. So both hands, both wrists and so on.
What are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis?
It is unknown what the cause is of RA but doctors are saying that it is an auto-immune condition whereby the antibodies are attacking the areas of the joint tissue. Below are possible causes that you might want to factor in.
- Genetic susceptibility
- Environmental factors like toxins such as – pesticides, herbicides, synthetic toxins, smoking, drinking lots of caffeine, exposure to silicate, oral contraceptives, climate conditions like – high humidity, high atmospheric pressure, low temperature
- Oxidative stress from low levels of nutrients which produce free-radicals, which are elevated when the disease progresses.
- Auto-antibody production, known as Rheumatoid Factor (RF) and cyclic citrullinated peptide auto-antibodies (anti-CCP) which can be seen in blood tests. Although not directly related to joint destruction, it’s a marker to consider.
- Micro-organisms such as Epstein Bar virus (EBV), rubella virus, mycoplasma, amebic organisms, E.coli, Proteus species, cytomegalovirus, parvovirus and Influenza virus AH2N2 have all been associated with RA
- SIBO or gut dysbiosis can affect RA. 70% of the immune is in the gut and so closely related to nutrition, stress response. Gut issues are closely linked to disease and illness due to a compromised immune system. If fecal flora was tested, it is found to be significantly less in bifidobacteria such as Bacteriodes, Porphyromonas, & Prevotella.
- Food Allergies & reactions. The best approach is a controlled elimination as explained below.
- Slowed Detoxification Pathways. If the body is not eliminating toxins efficiently which then predicts the severity of the RA and its onset. Regular detoxification is key to reducing RA progression. See below for more details.
- Leaky Gut and overall bacterial flora of the gut. With chronic inflammation the gut can cause intestinal permeability which can be associated with adverse food reactions.
- Anti-rheumatic drugs such as the newer biological agents that are being used to treat RA – carry significant health risks and can accelerate atherosclerosis.
- Diet. Typically a western diet shows higher RA rates globally.
signs and symptoms Rheumatoid arthritis
Some of the signs and symptoms are as follows:
- Joints can be warm, swollen and tender
- Joint inflammation
- Low grade fever
- Weight loss
- Prolonged morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour
- Skin on the join may look purplish in colour, burning or itching senstaion
- Nerve pain
- Tingling and numbness especially in the hands and feet
- Fatigue, fever or feeling unwell
- Heart palpitations
As the joint pain continues to severe joint pain, there will be increase inflammation that usually begins in the small joints and progresses to affect all the joints.
Progression of the disease will then start to see deformities in the hands and feet known as swan neck, and boutonniere, and cock-up toes.
diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis
There is not one definitive test for RA however your doctor may carry out any one of the following to help establish the condition and what stage your are at.
- Diagnosis of RA is on the amount of pain and inflammation in the joints, when there is no other reason for this to be there.
- Ultrasound/X-Ray/MRI may show soft tissue swelling as well as cartilage erosion and narrowing of the joint space. And can be used to track inflammatory activity that has caused bone damage over time.
- Blood tests with markers as outlined below.
- Rheumatoid Factor blood test which checks for antibodies that may be associated with the condition
- Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptides (anti-CCP) which is a newer test that can be performed. to identify the inflammation
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) blood test which can show a high degree of inflammation, however there are many causes fo inflammation and my help to gauge the aggressiveness of it.
- C-Reactive Protein blood test which tests for high levels of protein associated with inflammation. There are other factors that create this protein like obesity.
Similar presentations to rheumatoid arthritis
There are other diseases and conditions that look like RA to be aware of, these present with similar signs and symptoms. These are:
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)
- Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
- Post-Viral Arthritis
There is a lot of overlap in the above with regards to the cause, the signs and symptoms and the treatment. However when looking at all of these although they are slightly different from a naturopatic approach the protocol would be the same.
COMPLICATIONS of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can go on to cause the following complications:
- Pericarditis which is an inflammation of the pericardium, .
- Pulmonary fibrosis, which is the gradual replacement of the one layer thick epithelial cell lining in the alveoli with fibrotic tissue, which is less able to exchange oxygen and co2
- Type III Hypersensitivity
- Nodules on the hands
- Fibromyalgia – where there is pain all over the body
- Heart Problems
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Increased risk of lymphoma (a group of blood cancers, which develop in the lymph)
- Kidney Disease
what your doctor will offer you
- You will be asked a series of questions to determine if you are likely to have RA.
- You will be sent for blood tests and the doctors will look for the RF markers (rheumatoid factor), and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies. Elevated ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate), as well as elevated CRP (c-reactive protein), which may show the presence of an inflammatory process in the body.
- Imaging tests may be carried out via an x-ray to see the progression of RA
- MRI &
- Ultrasound tests help to judge how severe the disease is in the body
- You may be offered various different drugs to treat the symptom but these will not help with the cause of the RA. The following may be prescribed
- NSAIDS – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed but long term use of these has been shown to have adverse affects on RA and these would only be fighting the symptoms and not a solution to the root cause of RA.
- Corticosteroids like prednisone might be given if the NSAIDS did not work. These block the inflammatory response, however corticosteroids (injected steroid) also suppress the immune response too. Look out for the risks of taking these medications.
- Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
AMPP® – Activated Mesenchymal Pericyte Plasma (using Lipogems® technology)
- DMARDs – Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs. Such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine, with other drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and leflunomide used less commonly.
Terminology your doctor may use:
- ACPA (anti-citrullinated protein antibody),
- ACR (American College of Rheumatology),
- bDMARD (biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug),
- BMI (body mass index),
- CRP (C-reactive protein),
- csDMARD (conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug),
- CXCL13 (C-X-C motif chemokine 13),
- DAS28 (disease activity score in 28 joints),
- DAS28-CRP (disease activity score in 28 joints including C-reactive protein level),
- ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate),
- EULAR (European League Against Rheumatism),
- HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire),
- IFN (interferon),
- IL (interleukin), MRP8 and MRP14(myeloid-related proteins 8 and 14),
- MTX (methotrexate),
- NPV (negative predictive value),
- PPV (positive predictive value),
- RA (rheumatoid arthritis),
- RF (rheumatoid factor),
- sICAM (soluble intercellular adhesion molecule),
- TNF (tumor necrosis factor)
Relying on the doctors for medications is only one part of what you can do to help fight RA. Prevention is the cure here and so making positive lifestyle changes will help with this condition to not only prevent but to also reverse the condition. Learning about the different ways that can help this condition is key.
Key areas to help yourself with are to:-
- Understand what is happening in your body, so that you can make different choices going forward.
- Look to detoxify so that your body can heal and repair with the nutrients and positive mindset that plays such a big role in healing and reversing health issues.
- Look to find the cause of your condition so that you can then use the correct protocol to help propel the body into healing. If you want to know more about this then get in touch. Ultimate Health can help you to find the right protocol for your condition.
- Regular fasting to which has been proven to be very effective with RA
A big part of why the body is presents this condition is lifestyle factors and the sum of the choices you have made and make moving forward. You may want to consider a Reboot and look to give your body a break. Regular breaks from the typical western diet that is not only inflammatory but disease promoting, helps you to give your body the best chance to heal.
Take the next step to preventing illness &
Join Ultimate Health and discover that ‘Your Journey Starts Here!’
At Ultimate Health we look for prevention and treating the cause. We always start by wiping the slate clean with a Reboot and then looking to help support your body to heal using natural proven principles. Naturopathic solutions and a protocol that supports your body and every system that it runs. We help you to manage the many multifunctional influences that can cause Rheumatoid Arthritis in the first place. Detoxification is key, as well as reducing internal inflammation. If you need a map we have the one clear path to support your entire being.
Here are the Pathways we use to support you:
- Detoxification – Elimination and clean eating/drinking
- Therapeutic fasting
- Anti-Inflammatory diet – a diet of organic whole-plant-based foods that are rich in vegetables, high in fiber, low in sugar, limiting refined carbohydrates such as while flour foods and goods like bread, cakes, muffins, cereals, biscuits and so on. Also a diet low in saturated fats found in all animal products. rich in whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts & seeds.
- Stress Management
- Meditation and mindfulness
1. National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society – https://www.nras.org.uk/
2. College of Naturopathic Medicine – Biomedicine training
3. Natural Medicine, (Third Edition) Murray & Pizzorno
4. Gould’s Psychophysiology for Health Professionals, Hubert & Vanmeter,
5. Fatty Acid Supplementation in RA, https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/71/1/349s/4729564
6. Dr John McDougall, https://www.drmcdougall.com/
1. Plant Based diets & RA – nutritionfacts.org
2. College of Naturopathic Medicine – Biomedicine training
3. Natural Medicine, (Third Edition) Murray & Pizzorno
4. Gould’s Psyhophysiology for Health Professionals, Hubert & Vanmeter,