WHAT IS RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that affects more than 1.5 million adults. While RA can affect anyone, women between 40 and 60 years of age are usually more prone to developing this disorder.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system begins attacking the thin membranes that surround the body’s joints because they are mistaken for foreign invaders. Once these membranes are attacked, a buildup of immune complexes and fluid occurs in the affected joint(s). When the immune system is working properly, immune complexes naturally filter out of the blood. However, when these complexes are able to accumulate, they settle into various joints, causing tissue damage and inflammation, which leads to the pain, and swelling associated with RA.
CAUSES OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
If a family member has rheumatoid arthritis, or any other autoimmune disease, your risk factor for developing RA increases. While this may seem discouraging, according to studies, genetics only accounts for 25 percent; whereas, environmental factors account for 75 percent of autoimmune conditions. Therefore, lifestyle changes can decrease the likelihood of developing an autoimmune condition.
Other factors that increase the risk of developing RA include:
Cigarette smoking – especially if the individual already has a genetic predisposition for rheumatoid arthritis.
Leaky gut syndrome – the gut becomes damaged and begins to allow toxins, undigested food and microbes directly into the bloodstream.
Gluten – once an individual has leaky gut syndrome, gluten can enter the bloodstream. Gluten’s molecular structure is similar to the building blocks of other tissues in the body, which is why Gluten confuses the immune system. This confusion can lead to the immune system accidentally attacking organs and joints within the body.
Mycotoxins – produced by toxic mold. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be poisonous to people who are genetically susceptible.
Infections – studies indicate a strong connection between the onset RA and the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut. Although it has yet to be proven that the bacteria found naturally in the gut (Proteus mirabilis and Prevotella copri) plays a significant role in the onset of psoriatic and rheumatoid arthritis, these bacteria can cause leaky gut syndrome, which frequently causes inflammation and immune dysfunction.
Epstein-Barr virus – it is believed that this virus may trigger RA because the antibodies created to attack the Epstein-Barr virus may attack the joint tissue instead. Thus, allowing the buildup of fluid and immune complexes.
High mercury levels – this heavy metal has the ability to damage or alter various cells within the body. If a cell becomes damaged, the immune system may mistake it for an invader and start attacking the body’s organs. Individuals who have high levels of mercury in their blood have an increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
SYMPTOMS OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
RA usually begins in the smaller joints of the body (fingers, toes, etc.) and then progresses to the larger joints (ankles, wrists, hips and knees). With rheumatoid arthritis, both sides of the body are affected: For example, if an individual has RA in his or her wrist, both wrists will be affected with the disorder.
The symptoms and severity of this disorder vary; however, common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include:
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Stiff bumps or nodules beneath the skin
- Joint stiffness, tenderness, and inflammation
- Joint pain
- Finger or joint deformity
- Unintended weight loss
- Decreased range of motion
- Joint warmth
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CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
As with most disorders and conditions, conventional medicine focuses on managing the symptoms associated with RA, as opposed to finding its root cause. Therefore, the conventional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is medication.
The first line of treatment includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). At some point, the NSAIDS will no longer relieve the symptoms and a steroid will be prescribed. If the steroids stop working, a variety of other medications will be prescribed. This new set of medications is rather harsh because they are designed to tone down or suppress the immune system altogether. These medications include Imuran, Methotrexate, Remicade, Plaquenil and Enbrel. The side effects of these drugs include bone marrow suppression, liver damage and an increased vulnerability to infections.
At Florida Health & Wellness Institute, we believe that the best way to treat an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis is to find the root cause of the disorder. To accomplish this, Dr. Jorge Peláez, will utilize conventional medicine for the purpose of obtaining a diagnosis. Once your diagnosis is attained, he will create a custom-designed functional medicine program to assist you as you move toward optimal health and wellness. Your program may include removing gluten from your diet, healing the gut, testing for heavy metals, diagnosing and treating infections, instructions related to techniques for relieving stress as well as supplementation for your immune system.
If you have already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or you believe that you have an autoimmune disorder, please contact Dr. Jorge Peláez at Florida Health & Wellness Institute in Pensacola. By finding and addressing the root of the problem, he can help you achieve optimal health and wellness. Click the button below to schedule your initial consultation today.