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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder predominantly affecting your joints, but also many other parts of your body. When you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system sounds a false alarm and attacks your own tissues, specifically the tissue surrounding your joints. This tissue is called the synovium, and it reacts to this attack by thickening and becoming inflamed. The inflammation can eventually erode your joints from the inside, while also straining the tendons and ligaments holding your joints.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid ArthritisTypically, rheumatoid arthritis is first noticed in the smallest joints such as those in your fingers and toes, then spreads to your other joints. The main symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include: – Joint pain: Often described as warm, swollen, and tender; – Joint stiffness: Particularly in the morning and after inactivity; – Fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t only affect your joints – it often impacts other systems of your body as well. People with this condition can also experience varying symptoms affecting the skin, eyes, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and nerve tissue. These symptoms usually ebb and flow, so you may experience flares and also periods where your symptoms subside.
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Causes & Risk Factors Of Rheumatoid ArthritisThe cause of your pain when you have rheumatoid arthritis is your immune system attacking the membrane lining around your joints. But what causes your immune system to be on high alert? The underlying cause is unknown but is most likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with the former making your body more susceptible to the latter. Some common risk factors of developing rheumatoid arthritis include: – Age: Although it can occur at any age, rheumatoid arthritis is most often seen in people between 40 and 60 years of age. – Sex: rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than men. – Family history: Having a family member who is diagnosed increases your chances of developing it as well. – Chemical/substance exposure: In general, exposure to certain substances such as silica or asbestos is believed to increase your risk of developing an autoimmune disease, including rheumatoid arthritis. – Tobacco use: As is well outlined in this 2014 paper by Chang et al, Smoking cigarettes is associated both with the development of RA, and the increasing severity of symptoms. – Obesity: The risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is slightly higher in those who are overweight or obese, especially in women ages 55 and younger. It’s important to investigate potential environmental factors affecting your body and increasing your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, or if you’re already diagnosed, the factors that may be making your symptoms much worse.
Naturopathic Treatments For Rheumatoid ArthritisMany medical treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, including steroids and NSAID use, can be hard on your body as they can have effects on your entire immune system, and can be hard on the stomach and liver. Thankfully, there are natural treatments to help you find relief from the pain and discomfort of rheumatoid arthritis, reducing your need for medication, or reducing your need to increase your current dosages or adding on more pharmaceutical treatments to manage your pain. However, please recognize that this article is no substitute for qualified medical advice. Seek the counsel of one of us here at Annex Naturopathic, or your medical doctor, before you make any changes to your medicinal routine. Here are some naturopathic solutions you can easily incorporate into your daily lifestyle.
1. Eat An Anti-Inflammatory DietConsidering how rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, reducing the inflammation in your body is a crucial first step towards treating your symptoms. An anti-inflammatory diet excludes foods that contribute to swelling and inflammation such as refined grains, fried foods, fatty and processed meats, and soda. Here are some foods that aid in decreasing inflammation to consider adding to your diet: – Foods high in monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados, and various nuts – Foods high in omega-3 fats, such as fish, nuts, and seeds – Carotenoids, a group of fruits and vegetables including peaches, oranges, mango, apricots, broccoli, leafy greens, carrots and many more – Foods high in fibre – Foods with plenty of flavonoids such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, peppers, leafy greens, tofu, beans and lentils, and tea. Overall, focusing on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed foods will help you decrease inflammation within your body.
2. Supplement With CurcuminIf you’ve ever cooked with turmeric, you know it has a beautiful yellow/orange hue. This colouring comes from curcumin, a bright yellow compound used to reduce tenderness and swelling within your joints. Related to the ginger root family, curcumin has been historically used in Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Curcumin is safe and effective, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments. A 2018 study by Asteriou Et Al recently outlined the benefit of curcumin in managing rheumatoid arthritis. It also points out curcumin’s benefit as a preventative measure for periodontitis due to its antibacterial properties. There are many delicious ways to incorporate curcumin into your diet, and supplements are also a great way to make sure you’re taking the right dosage – talk to your naturopath for more information on this treatment.
3. ExerciseGentle exercise is proven to be an important factor in preventing and treating rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are worsened by inactivity, which you may know if you have this condition – your joints grow very stiff and painful to move. Some exercises that are easy on your body and may provide symptom relief include yoga, tai chi, walking, and bicycling. Although it may be difficult to get moving when you’re in pain, moderate exercise has long been documented as a gentle and effective way to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
4. AcupunctureAcupuncture is renowned for being a trusted, effective, non-invasive treatment for many different conditions, especially those involving pain. The transmission of pain signals from your brain, and your brain’s release of chemicals like endorphins, are all affected by the insertion of acupuncture needles. Since rheumatoid arthritis affects your overall health, acupuncture works to target multiple systems of your body. Approaching rheumatoid arthritis as a complex disorder affecting your entire body is what sets acupuncture apart as an all-encompassing and effective treatment. By healing your digestive system, liver, and other internal organs, acupuncture works to help your body restore its natural healing mechanisms and fight the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Acupuncture is a safe and natural treatment – although the idea of needles may seem intimidating, they are completely painless and often very relaxing. A number of studies have found acupuncture to be an effective treatment method for helping manage rheumatoid arthritis, including studies by Tam Et Al, and Chou and Chu.
5. Supplement With Omega-3Omega-3 fatty acids have become extremely popular over the past decade due to their powerful and proven health benefits. One of these many benefits is the role omega-3s play in supporting your immune system and preventing/treating autoimmune disorders, as well as reducing inflammation. Additionally, omega-3 fats are important for the health of your brain, heart, and lungs – organs often affected by rheumatoid arthritis. There are foods high in omega-3 fatty acids you can easily incorporate into your diet, such as fish, nuts, and seeds. Omega-3 supplements are also available at most pharmacies and natural health stores, and they are the most effective way to ensure you’re consuming the best dosage for your body.
Contact Annex NaturopathicDealing with a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis can be painful, frustrating, and greatly impede your quality of life. You don’t have to resign yourself to simply living with this illness and dealing with potential complications down the road. There are natural and effective treatments for your symptoms, and also for potential environmental triggers that may be making your symptoms much worse. Contact Annex Naturopathic today for more information on our natural arthritis treatments. We can work with you on a treatment plan to help tackle your rheumatoid arthritis, support your immune system, and activate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Reach out to us at Annex Naturopathic – we can help.
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