Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder associated with the bone joints in the body. This condition can be quite painful. The main aim of treatment is to provide relief from the pain and discomfort caused by it.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a medical condition that is an outcome of what happens when the bone joints undergo wear and tear, leading to erosion of the bones and then to deformities. This is more of an autoimmune disorder, which is more common in women than men, and usually happens to strike the age group 40 to 60. In cases where the bone joints get severely damaged, surgical means need to be adopted.
The disorder suddenly attacks the lining of the bones (synovium). The cartilages starts getting affected, and the tendons and the ligaments weaken, causing the bone joints to misalign and deform. Studies illustrate that genetic components are more likely to cause rheumatoid arthritis, though other causes like viruses, bacteria, and environmental reasons cannot be ruled out. The first symptoms show up with a stinging joint pain and swelling, with a feeling of tenderness. Gradually, the hands become red and puffy, with firm bumps erupting under the skin. People suffering from this disorder often suffer from bouts of fever, morning stiffness, fatigue, and weight loss.
Well, sadly there is no cure for this disorder, except that medications and prescription drugs are given to subdue the inflammation of the bone joints. But where medications do not show much effect, natural methods work. So here are some natural ways of treating the condition, by which the symptoms of this disorder can be reduced.
Using Hot and Cold Compress
A hot or cold compress is used to palliate the joint swelling and inflammation. In case of cold treatment, apply the cold compress for about 15 minutes. There should be a 30-minute break before the next round. A heat compress is also used, which helps in muscle relaxation and stimulating blood flow. Microwave hot packs are also used. A steam bath or a warm soak (with some Epsom salt) are also effective remedies. However, a hot tub is not a very good option for people having high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, and for pregnant women.
Another alternative treatment option is using magnets. Magnetic therapies make use of bracelets, necklaces, pads, disks, and inserts. This therapy has shown significant results in people suffering from osteoarthritis (usually associated with aging). Medical research says that magnets help in subduing the joint pain and swelling, specially in people who suffer from knee or hip arthritis.
Alternative treatment includes mind and body therapies:
- Deep breathing exercises (help in controlling stress hormones and slows down the heartbeat during stress)
- Progressive muscle relaxation (muscle exercises that help in contraction and relaxation of muscles from head to toe)
- Yoga and meditation (helps in strengthening bones and relieving stress)
- Acupuncture and using acupressure mats (Chinese technique of stimulating pressure points and channeling qi (body energy) in the body)
- Tai chi (healing martial art technique used in healing chronic pain caused by arthritis and other cardiovascular conditions)
Diet plays an important role in improving the health condition. Again, it is important to remember that there is no remedy for the disorder, but treatment helps in mitigating the symptoms like joint pain and swelling. It has been observed that regulation of fat levels in the body can aid in controlling the inflammation in the bone joints. Omega-3 fatty acids play a major role in extenuating related symptoms. Some of the foods that aid in pain relief are:
- Fish (salmon, mackerel and herring) and fish oils
- Cod liver oil
- Walnuts and their oil
- Soybeans and their oil
- Avocado and its oil
- Borage seed oil (in limited quantities)
- Thunder God vine (not for pregnant women though)
- Fresh leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fresh vegetables and fruit juices
- Herbal tea (like green tea, with a pinch of lemon)
- Soups and broths
Apart from these, there are some foods that one needs to avoid. Avoid taking beverages, dairy products, foods with more saturated fats and excessive salt, refined wheat, fried foods, citrus fruits and processed foods. Do not use saturated oils for cooking. The best cooking oil substitute is olive oil, which has more unsaturated fat. This is because, people who are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are most susceptible to heart conditions. Herbs can also be included in the diet, which not only serve the purpose of treating early symptoms, but also add flavor to the food.
Other Treatment Options
Prescription drugs are used for stalling the symptoms of this disorder. However, many of these drugs have potential side effects. Although they help in reducing the swelling of bone joints and preventing further bone damage, their side effects are too grave to ignore. Doctors usually prescribe the following medication, which have the least side effects.
- Non steroidal inflammatory drugs (Advil, Motrin, Naproxen sodium, with side effects of increased bruising, gastric ulcers and liver and kidney problems)
- Steroids (Corticosteroid medications like prednisone and methylprednisolone with side effects of weight gain, diabetes, cataracts and bone thinning)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine and minocycline, with side effects of liver damage, lung infection and bone marrow suppression)
- Immunosuppressants (zathioprine, cyclosporine and cyclophosphamide with side effects of weakening the immune system)
- TNF alpha Inhibitors (etanercept, infliximab and adalimumab, with side effects of congestive heart failure, blood disorders and lymphoma)
Other drugs like anakinra, abatacept, and rituximab are also prescribed to target inflammatory responses of the body. However, it is evident that natural treatment methods, although slow and less effective than drugs, are better anytime, as they do not have any potential side effects which end up compromising the immune system of the body. To prevent such disorders, one must follow a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, and an engaging physical regime right from a young age, as this disorder happens to strike people who have crossed 40.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.