Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) afflicts approximately 1 in every 100 people, it is 3 times more prevalent in women than it is in men and usually has an onset of symptoms between 40 and 50 years of age though sufferers as young as 15 have been recorded. RA is usually diagnosable through blood tests and like other forms of arthritic disease will not manifest exactly the same in all people who have it.
RA mainly affects the small joints in the body, in our hands, feet and neck but can affect the larger joints too. RA causes painful swelling in the lining (synovium) of the joints, often (but not always) producing painful nodules under the skin that can vary in size from a few millimeters to a few centimetres over the bony protruberances of the joints.
RA is an auto immune disease with no definate and definable cause but medical science has establiushed that sufferers tend to have relatives who also suffer from RA. RA is three times more common in smokers, it may be triggered by an immune response to another illness and recent studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may cause people to be more susceptible to it.
Physical activity is greatly curtailed by a flare up of symptoms which tend to be more intense first thing in the morning for an hour or more. Many sufferers find hot weather particularly distressing and find cooler climates more agreeable. RA increases the risk of cardio vascular disease, anaemia and lung fibrosis.
Part of the difficulty of treating RA is that the drugs used to controll it’s symptoms often have undesirable and confusing side effects. Prednisone for instance can lessen the severity of RA symptoms but prolonged use can cause osteoporosis which can in itself be a consequence of lowered physical activity because exercise is difficult and painful.
In recent times fish oil and krill oil containing omega 3 fatty acids have been found effective in lessening RA symptoms. I have met several people over the years who have claimed that alkaline diets have been helpful in treating their own RA, a therapy that most medical authorities do not recommend whether because they do not think it works or that most people do not have the necessary discipline to strictly follow it.
Gentle massage and joint mobilisation can be helpful in treating the symptoms of RA but. An increasing number of RA sufferers find medical marajuana helpful in making their lives more comfortable which is clearly not a legal option in most countries, for a health practitioner to even suggest it’s use in such places may be a crime in itself.
Meditation can help RA sufferers cope with their disease, it costs nothing and will not make the symptoms worse if it doesn’t work for you.
In more severe cases joint replacement surgery is used when disablement and pain becomes intolerable.