October 07 2019 at 07:31 AM by Biswajeet Sahoo
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation of the small joints of hands and feet. In this disorder, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own body tissues considering them as invaders. Fluid buildup is noticed in the affected body tissues. The tissues surrounding the joints swell giving rise to a painful condition which is medically termed as “rheumatoid arthritis”.
Individuals and generally women above the age of 40 fall easy prey to rheumatoid arthritis. It is a chronic inflammatory disease and cannot be completely cured. Once developed, individuals have to bear the accompanying consequences for the rest of their lives.
Statistics defining global scenario of patients with arthritis
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every 1 in 4 individuals will develop arthritis in their lifetime. Statistics have revealed that arthritis affects about 50 million Americans, 2.9 million Europeans and about 180 million in India. The global picture of arthritis is quite alarming and it forces us to think as to what needs to be done in order to relieve the patients from the debilitating symptoms. Another startling fact is about individuals suffering from depression due to arthritis. It has been estimated that individuals with arthritis are twice as likely to suffer from depression as compared to their healthy counterparts. Research has also shown that a large number of women and inactive lifestyle among the youth makes them more susceptible to contract arthritis.
Types of arthritis
There are over 200 types of arthritis which are broadly categorized into 3 major types. These include the following:
1. Inflammatory arthritis: This type consists of rheumatoid arthritis, gout and ankylosing spondylitis.
2. Non – inflammatory arthritis: In this kind of arthritis, there is pain but no accompanying inflammation. These consist of osteoarthritis, scoliosis and torn ligaments.
3. Connective tissue disease: This type consists of sclerosis, lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome.
Causes of rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that is known to attack its own healthy body tissues. What triggers the body’s immune system to function in this fashion is not yet known. However, factors such as genetics and environment are to be blamed for triggering the immune system to function in this weird manner.
In addition, inactive lifestyle, lack of exercise and excessive consumption of calorie-dense foods are also some of the important factors that are known to play foul. What one needs to understand is that inactive lifestyle that is defined by lack of exercise and long hours of sitting can cause the joints to stiffen leading to the development of arthritis. It has also been proved that smokers and individuals who drink alcohol are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. Women are more susceptible to this joint disorder due to the presence of hormone estrogen.
Symptoms of arthritis
Individuals living with rheumatoid arthritis often experience bouts of intense episodes that are characterized by periods of severe pain and joint inflammation. These episodes are called disease “flares” which may worsen with time. On the other hand, certain individuals may not experience such flare-ups and may jolly well live a disease-free life. Why does the disease differentiate amongst individuals is still a mystery.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary in their degree of severity depending on the condition of the individual. Pain and inflammation are the basic and primary symptoms of this chronic disease. In addition, certain individuals may also experience symptoms such as undue fatigue, tiredness, anaemic and low-grade fever. It requires to be mentioned that pain will not only be experienced on one side of the body, that is the affected side, but it also will be experienced on the other side as well.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating condition and can often be a cause of emotional turmoil for individuals due to the type of symptoms experienced. The individuals complain of morning stiffness that lasts for several hours, with swelling of joints that often turn red and are firm and warm to touch. Several individuals also develop rheumatoid nodules. These nodules are nothing but small lumps of tissue that take shape beneath the skin. Elbow is the most common area where these nodules take shape. However, there are even other bony areas that may develop such nodules. Under severe circumstances, these nodules may also affect the functioning of the body systems and organs.
Till date, you must have only heard about the medications, surgeries, lifestyle changes and strict dietary regime to work for rheumatoid arthritis. All over the world, researchers and scientists are focused only on producing and inventing medications for management of arthritis. However, Indian scientists have now come out with an ointment or more commonly known as “balm” for effective management of arthritis. This balm is considered to be the breakthrough intervention in the area of arthritis and has proven to have significantly reduced joint pain and inflammation.
1. Treating rheumatoid arthritis through homoeopathy
The homoeopathy field of treatment is gaining much-needed importance due to its success rate in effectively treating rheumatoid arthritis. It is a low-cost non – toxic medicine that is used by millions across the world. There are several homoeopathy medicines that are available to treat rheumatoid arthritis. These consists of -
· Arnica for treating the pain caused due to inflammation.
· Bryonia that helps relieving the stiffness and inflammation.
· Calcerea carbonica meant for those individuals who have severely aching joints.
· Aurum metallicum is prescribed to patients who have pains in the joints as well as muscles.
· Causticum is meant to be used in extreme cases when bone deformities have set in.
· Dulcamara is given to individuals who have arthritis flare-ups during cold weather.
In addition to these there are several other medications also, such as calcarea fluorica, kali bichromicum, kali carbonicum, kalmia latiflora, ledum palustre, pulsatilla, rhododendron, rhus toxicondendron and ruta graveolens.
2. Treating rheumatoid arthritis with Ayurveda
Ayurveda is yet another natural treatment mode for effective treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The ayurvedic treatment follows 3 major principles for the management of arthritis. These are fasting following by purification of the body and then treatment of the symptoms. The phase of fasting comprises of absolute fasting or putting the patients solely on green gram soup. Purification of the body is done through the pancha karma therapy that follows the principle of relieving the body from all the toxins. Lastly, the third phase of treatment involves the administration of medications such as kashaya, asavarista, choorna, vati, taila and rasoushadi for management of the symptoms.
3. Allopathy and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
Medications form the primary basis of treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In severe cases, if medications fail to work then surgery is the last resort. Medications are given for relieving the pain as well as reducing the inflammation. Moreover, steroids may have to be administered to certain patients depending on the severity of the condition. Steroids such as prednisone help relieve pain, inflammation and slow down the progression of joint damage. Immunosuppressants are another class of drugs that are given to control the immune system and make it work in the desired manner.
Although the efficacy of these drugs in treating rheumatoid arthritis has been proved, they have, nevertheless, also been found responsible for their noteworthy contribution to the development of side effects such as strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. Other adverse events include vomiting, development of ulcers in GI tract, nausea, gastrointestinial disorders, stomach pain etc. Therefore, this class of drugs needs to be taken with caution.
When these medications and topical agents fail to work, individuals will be given steroid injections for pain relief. These medicines are directly injected in the area of pain and repeated after regular intervals of 3 - 4 months. However, even these injections have their share of disadvantages which appear to be more dreadful than the benefits. Steroid injections like corticosteroids when given may mask an injury which may lead to excessive use of the affected joint damaging it further.
TNF – alpha inhibitors are the class of drugs that reduce the pain and inflammation and also help decrease the morning stiffness caused due to rheumatoid arthritis. The drugs in this class include adalimumab, golimumab, certolizumab, inflixima and etanercept. In addition, there are several other drugs that have a targeted action towards the various processes that trigger an inflammatory response in the body. Some of the examples of the drugs include anakinra, abatacept, rituximab, tocillizumab and tofacitinib.
Individuals with mild pain can take acetaminophen. This medicine is effective when there is mild pain with no accompanying inflammation. Other class of drugs such as muscle relaxants may also be prescribed for effective management of pain.
Allopathic medications are many, but one would also have to consider its side effects. Long term consumption of such medications may provide relief from symptoms but they have debilitating side effects. These sometimes may turn so severe that it may seem that tolerating the symptoms was far better than the present side effects.
Feel free to reach us