Natural Healing Center

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Using Natural Healing

18 July 2023 // comments: 0

The word “arthritis” conjures up images of painful joints, stiffness, and limited mobility, but not all arthritis is the same. Unlike osteoarthritis, the so-called “wear-and-tear” arthritis associated with age, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that can affect far more than just your joints. Understanding the underlying mechanism of RA, symptoms to beware of, and how to treat it are essential to finding effective treatment and preserving your long-term quality of life.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder in which your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. It primarily affects the lining of the joints, causing painful swelling that over time can produce joint deformity and bone erosion. However, as an autoimmune disease, RA can also damage other organs and bodily systems such as the skin, eyes, heart, blood vessels, and lungs.

What are symptoms to look for? General symptoms to look for can include warm, tender, swollen joints; joint stiffness that tends to be worse in the mornings and/or after periods of inactivity; and fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite. RA tends to start in the smaller joints, most frequently in the joints where your fingers meet your hands and where your toes meet your feet. Symptoms then often spread to the wrists, ankles, elbows, knees, shoulders, and hips, mostly occurring symmetrically on both sides of the body.

It’s important to note that symptoms of RA aren’t always constant. Flares—periods of greater swelling and pain—can alternate with times of relative remission when symptoms may decrease in severity or fade completely. Also, in about 40% of RA patients, symptoms that involve the joints are accompanied by symptoms affecting other areas of the body, such as the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, salivary glands, nerve tissue, bone marrow, and blood vessels.

Causes and Risk Factors

As with other autoimmune diseases, doctors don’t really know what causes your immune system, which is supposed to protect your body from disease, to turn on the healthy tissue in your joints. However, it is believed that underlying genetic factors can make it more likely that a body will react to environmental factors such as a viral or bacterial infection that can trigger the onset of RA.

Risk factors that can increase your odds of developing RA also include:

  • Sex: Women are more likely than men to suffer from RA.
  • Age: Though it is possible to get RA at any age, it most often begins in middle age.
  • Family history: If a relative has RA, you may have a greater chance of developing it as well.
  • Excess weight: Being overweight puts you at a somewhat higher risk of getting RA.
  • Smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of developing RA, particularly if there is already a genetic predisposition to the disorder. Smoking is also associated with increased severity of RA.

Addressing RA

Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis does not have a cure. Traditional medicine largely focuses on using pharmaceuticals to reduce inflammation and to slow the progression of the disease through a class of medication known as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS). But each of these types of drugs comes with trade-offs and side effects that can produce their own problems. For example, NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can irritate the stomach or damage the heart and kidneys. Steroids can thin the bones and cause weight gain or diabetes. And DMARDs, depending on the type, can increase the risk of infections as well as causing liver damage, blood clots in the lungs, serious heart issues, or cancer.

Living with a chronic condition like RA is stressful, because even when symptoms are under control there is always the threat that tomorrow will bring another flare. Being dependent on drugs for a sense of precariously balanced wellness is also stressful for many RA patients. That constant tension can even provoke a flare. Traditional medicine is not the only path for addressing the inflammation at the root of RA, however.

At the Natural Healing Center, our focus is on enlisting the body’s natural healing abilities to achieve long-term wellness without unwanted side effects. Nutrition is the first essential building block to this approach. While a diet built on healthy, unprocessed foods is beneficial for anyone, knowing how to supply the body with exactly what it needs and avoid triggering foods is critical for anyone with an autoimmune disorder like RA. Nutrition Response Testing allows us to pinpoint exactly what each client needs to reduce inflammation and regulate out-of-control immune responses quickly, without protracted elimination diets. We can also prescribe whole-food supplements that make it simple to stick to your ideal nutrition plan over the long term.

When clients come to us for answers, we create a personalized wellness plan designed to prevent problems and support long-term wellness. For RA, this can include modalities designed to reduce inflammation, such as NovoTHOR and Bemer, as well as those geared toward reducing stress, like Emotion Code. We know that living with a chronic condition is a lifelong challenge, which is why we’re here to support your physical and mental health with programs best geared for your unique situation. If you’re ready to explore a natural alternative for keeping RA from holding you back, contact us here for your free initial consultation.