What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a debilitating autoimmune disease
in which the immune system attacks the body. Approximately 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with RA. It is usually associated with joint inflammation and can lead to disfigurement of the joints, but it can also lead to a breakdown in the body's systems. The hands, wrists, and knees are the most common areas affected by RA.
It is not clear why certain individuals go into an autoimmune spiral and develop diseases like RA. Genetics play a part in a person's predisposition to develop a certain disease or condition. Genes must be activated to tip the balance into an autoimmune disease.
Our bodies are finely tuned organisms that have a certain stress threshold. I like to give the following analogy explaining a person's stress threshold: Imagine that your body is a drinking glass. If you continue filling the glass with water, there will be a certain point where the water can't be held by the glass and runs over the side, spilling and possibly damaging the table or the floor. The glass, table, and floor are analogous to the body, and the water is analogous to stress. There is a certain point where the body can't take on any more stress without the stress spilling over and causing damage to the body.
Once that stress threshold is breached, a person may find that they get sick or develop a chronic illness like RA. Stressors on the immune system can contribute to a person's propensity to develop RA. Stressors can be both mental/emotional and physical. I've had numerous patients tell me that before they developed RA or another autoimmune disease, they had an emotional trauma like the loss of a parent, child, or loved one.
Physical and biochemical stressors play a role in the stress threshold. Certain foods are stressors and have been linked to inflammation, especially foods to which a person is sensitive. Everyone has their own food sensitivities. There is not a person on the planet that does not have some form of food sensitivity
. They may not be aware that they are sensitive to a particular food because they do not have a typical allergic reaction to the food, but the underlying stress that food puts on the body is still present even if it's not outwardly noticeable.
Microbial imbalance and toxicity is also another major physical and biochemical stressor on the body. If a person has small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, fungus overgrowth, parasites
, amoebas, mycoplasmas, spirochetes, Rickettsia, viruses (like Epstein-Barr), protozoa, mercury, aluminum, other heavy metals
, pesticides, and chemical pollutants, then these imbalances are contributing to reaching their stress threshold.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Joint pain
- Joint tenderness
- Joint swelling
- Joint redness
- Loss of joint range of motion
- Multiple joints affected
- Both sides of body affected