Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, characterized by inflammation (synovitis) and thickening of the synovial lining of the joints, when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own body’s tissues. It progresses in three stages. The first stage is the swelling of the synovial lining, causing pain, warmth, stiffness, redness and swelling around the joint. Second is the rapid division and growth of cells, or pannus, which causes the synovial lining to thicken. In the third stage, the inflamed cells release enzymes that may digest bone and cartilage, often causing the involved joint to lose its shape and alignment, more pain, and loss of movement. RA generally begins in the smaller joints (hands and/or feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and/or ankles) with symmetrical joint involvement.
Tender, warm, painful joints along with morning stiffness.
Flu-like symptoms – fever, fatigue and muscular pain.
Disease flares, followed by remission or disease inactivity.
Rheumatoid nodules or lumps of tissue under the skin.
Loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, anemia, cold and/or sweaty hands and feet.
Advanced Stage Symptoms
Damage to cartilage, tendons, ligaments and bone.
Deformity and instability in the joints.
Limited range of motion, resulting in restriction of activities of daily living.
Dark purplish areas on the skin (purpura) caused by bleeding into the skin from blood vessels. These vasculitic lesions may cause skin ulcers.
Immune System: People with RA have an abnormal immune system response that takes the body’s healthy tissue for a foreign substance and attacks it.
Gender: Women get rheumatoid arthritis two to three times more often than men, and their RA becomes passive when they get pregnant. Women develop RA more often than expected in the year after pregnancy and symptoms generally increase post delivery.
Genetics: Most researchers believe there are genes involved in the cause of RA.
Infection: Some physicians and scientists believe that RA is triggered by a kind of infection.
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Psychological Factor: Stress disturbs the body’s natural hormonal balance, thus causing the weakness of the immune system.
Home Remedies for Physical Symptoms in Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hot Vinegar: Hot vinegar, when massaged over the inflamed joints before going to bed, helps to reduce the pain.
Epsom Salt: Bathing with four tablespoons of Epsom Salt in a bath tub filled with warm water will help relieve inflammation and induce a relaxation response.
Sesame Oil Massage: Massage your body with warm sesame oil on a daily basis before bathing for the overall health and fitness of the muscles and joints. This also helps to boost circulation and imparts strength to the bones.
Garlic: One raw piece of garlic should be taken daily (first thing in the morning) to boost immunity and reduce inflammation.
Turmeric: Take a half teaspoon of turmeric everyday or one capsule of turmeric with warm water to reduce the rheumatoid arthritic inflammation to the synovial lining and to prevent further degeneration.
Ayurveda: Regular intake of herbs like Guggul, Triphala churna detoxifies the system and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Application of Dashmool Tail and Maha Narayan Tail through Ayurvedic massage, followed by hot fomentation can be very beneficial under a certified Ayurvedic doctor.
Yoga: Practice yoga on a regular basis as increased movement will ease stiffness, increasing the range of joint motion. Breathing exercises (Pranayama) can be extremely beneficial for coping with pain, stress and inflammation. Perform yoga therapy under a certified yoga therapist.
Bach Flower Remedies: To help relieve inflammation, apply Rescue Remedy cream to the inflamed or painful area, three to four times a day. In people with arthritis, the whole system becomes slightly acidic, which many alternative practitioners believe is the result of hidden, unexpressed anger. A combination of Holly and Vine remedies can help even out this type of personality. Take ten drops under the tongue, three times daily or as needed.
Acupressure: The points between the thumb and index finger (the region where the fleshy part meets the bone) help relieve pain and inflammation in the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder and neck. This point is also located in the web margin between the big toe and second toe. Use medium pressure with your index fingers, pressing on both feet at the same time, if that is comfortable or otherwise one at a time. Another point is on the top of the foot, in the channel between the little toe and the fourth toe, slightly less than halfway between the ankle bone and the web margin between the toes (closer to the toes). The pain and discomfort of rheumatoid arthritis, and the emotional response to that pain, can constrict the circulation of chi. Press with your index or middle finger, using firm pressure. Start with light pressure, build up, hold, and gradually release. At the lower border of the kneecap, slide your finger off the shinbone towards the outside (little toe side). Two bones come together here. Press in the soft tissue area between them, using your index finger or your index and middle fingers together. This is a major point in acupuncture and acupressure for nourishing the tendons and joints. It also has a strong effect on promoting the smooth flow of chi (energy) throughout the body. Obstruction to the smooth flow of chi causes pain and discomfort.
Aromatherapy: Some of the best essential oils for treating the symptoms of arthritis are eucalyptus, camphor, thyme, lavender, rosemary, ginger and lemon. You may also find aromatherapy blends for steam inhalation, to be applied as compresses, or added to bath water for a relaxing and comforting hot bath. When used in hot compress treatment, you can help reduce inflammation, joint stiffness, and overall muscle tension.
Juice: Cherry juice, parsley, broccoli and spinach can assist in the treatment of arthritis, since these contain beta-carotene, along with carrots, apples, and ginger, all of which contain copper. Intake of pineapple juice is highly beneficial since it is the only source of the strong anti-inflammatory enzyme, bromelain.
Avoid: Tobacco, coffee, caffeinated tea, salt, artificial colors and preservatives should be avoided. A non-vegetarian diet is also said to aggravate arthritis, as it is high in uric acid, a primary factor in the aggravation of symptoms.
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing any or several of the symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about whether you have rheumatoid arthritis. You must verify with your physician before applying the article’s suggestions to your individual situation.