What is Rheumatoid Arthritis and How Can it Be Treated?
What does it mean when someone develops joint pain? Honestly, this can have a surfeit of meanings from injuries, gout, bursitis, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many others. So how can we tell which condition we’re suffering from? Is there a distinct difference between any of them even though they have similar symptoms? The simple answer is yes. Although, one may need to see a practitioner to officially diagnose the exact condition that they have for accuracy. The type of joint pain that one feels entirely depends on the location of the inflammation.
Many believe that joint pain is an issue for middle aged and elderly people, however this is widely incorrect. Anyone at any age can develop joint pain due to an injury, overworked tendons, or a form of autoimmunity. If a practitioner discovers that an autoimmune disease is causing the pain, this might lead to other health related concerns. Joint related autoimmune diseases normally include Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PR), Fibromyalgia, and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Other autoimmune diseases that can affect the joints as a side effect include Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and Sjögren’s Syndrome. It’s extremely easy to confuse these conditions with each other. However, out of all of them, RA is among one of the most common forms of joint related autoimmune disorders. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, many of the autoimmune patients that we treat suffer from RA. Additionally, many of them have been misdiagnosed with other joint related conditions and have endured feelings of frustration prior to discovering their real condition. To better help our patients understand RA, here is some information on the autoimmune disorder and how it could differ from other joint related conditions.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
RA is a chronic autoimmune condition, which means that the immune system mistakes healthy cells and tissues with bacteria, thus creating antibodies to attack them to fight possible infection. In cases involving RA, the immune system accidentally sends antibodies to the lining of one’s joints to destroy the synovium cells, thus causing inflammation and damaging nearby bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. The progression of RA has four stages:
Stage 1 – Early RA
Joint tissues are mistakenly attacked by the immune system. Patients may not experience any symptoms besides stiffness affecting smaller joints in the morning. The stiffness improves with movement, therefore it’s possible for many individuals to not be too concerned.
Stage 2 – Body Produces Antibodies
The body begins producing antibodies in the second stage which induces swelling in the joints affected. Additionally, antibodies can spread inflammation to other organs and tissues within the body. Patients that seek medical attention at this stage may be able to discover the antibodies through their bloodwork and catch the disease in its early developing stages.
Stage 3 – Physical Symptoms Appear
During stage 3, joints affected may appear deformed, swollen, red, or crooked. Joints can be so inflamed that they cause nerve pain and have an effect on the brain and nervous system.
Stage 4 – Fused Joints
Thankfully, most cases of RA receive a form of treatment before it can reach this stage. However, if the condition remains untreated, the joint(s) will not be able to function at all and possibly need a surgical procedure called a joint fusion. A joint fusion welds two bones that make up a joint together in order to hold it in a fixed position.
The Difference Between RA and Other Joint Conditions
One distinct symptom of RA that could help people distinguish the condition from other diseases is that the affected joints normally occur on both sides of the body. For example, if one feels joint pain and stiffness in their left elbow, the right elbow will simultaneously be affected. Whereas, other joint conditions may only be specific to one side or one part of the body. Those with RA may also experience unexplained weight loss, fatigue, unsteadiness, dry eyes, difficulty sleeping, pleurisy, deformity, bumps under skin and fever. Furthermore, the pain that one endures may improve with frequent movement as compared to osteoarthritis which causes “wear-and-tear” with motion. If the condition has worsened, patients may experience symptoms of numbness or tingling which is caused by the inflamed tendon placing pressure on the nerves.
Natural Treatment Options for RA
While conventional doctors will prescribe medications to reduce swelling and pain, this treatment method will only prolong the condition, and possibly irritate it, causing an adverse autoimmune reaction. LifeWorks offers noninvasive natural therapies with the purpose of dissecting the root cause and eliminating it. Patients will meet with a LifeWorks autoimmune disease specialist to discuss symptoms, medical background, allergies and other conditions such as pregnancy. From there, a practitioner will order a series of tests, including bloodwork to detect possible antibodies in order to determine the presence of autoimmunity. If results are positive, LifeWorks will provide a treatment plan that will tend to both the joints and the immune system. These treatments will involve intravenous therapies such as Myers’ Cocktail, Glutathione, and Major Autohemotherapy (MAH), Ozone therapies such as Hyperthermic Ozone and Carbonic Acid Transdermal Technology (HOCATT), Pulsed Magnetic Field Therapy (PEMF), Autoimmune Injections, supplementation, peptides and dietary changes.
You Don’t Have to Live in Pain
Whether you suffer from RA or other chronic joint/autoimmune conditions, LifeWorks is considered one of Florida’s top autoimmune disease clinics. Our team of health practitioners can accurately diagnose and treat your condition using natural remedies and noninvasive treatments.
If you or someone that you know currently has RA, autoimmunity or other joint conditions, please call to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians at 727-466-6789. Learn more about our treatment methods here.