Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder that can lead to joint swelling, stiffness, and pain. While there is currently no known medical cure for this condition, it is possible to manage its occurrence and prevent symptoms through early diagnosis and lifestyle modifications like food and supplementation support.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Arthritis is a long-lasting medical condition that results in joint inflammation and discomfort. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a distinct type of arthritis that arises when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues, leading to joint damage and other symptoms. While no medical cure for arthritis exists, various methods for managing the condition and mitigating its effects on daily life are available. Conventional Rheumatoid arthritis treatment typically involves a combination of physical therapy and medications. Medications commonly prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biological agents1. This condition has an array of symptoms, which can be observed early and can help diagnose the disease.
Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include
- pain or aching in multiple joints,
- stiffness in multiple joints,
- tenderness and swelling in multiple joints,
- the same joint symptoms on both sides of the body,
- loss of joint function and deformities,
- low-grade fever,
- loss of appetite,
- and weakness.
These symptoms can vary in severity, so it's important to pay attention to them even if they seem minor. By recognizing the signs of rheumatoid arthritis, you can better manage and treat the condition1.
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Certain risk factors, such as family history, smoking, and obesity, may increase the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, not everyone with these risk factors will develop the condition, and some individuals without any known risk factors may still develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Various causes associated with RA are:
- Heavy metals,
- gut issues,
- immune system dysregulation,
- toxin overload1,
- micronutrient deficiencies,
- history of live births,
- early life exposure,
- and diet 2.
How to holistically treat rheumatoid arthritis?
One important aspect of managing RA is lifestyle management and nutrition. Nutrition therapy is an essential component of managing rheumatoid arthritis. A well-balanced diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation and support joint health. Additionally, certain nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and antioxidants may have specific benefits for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Consulting with a functional nutritionist can provide personalised nutrition therapy recommendations for patients with RA 3.
Certain foods can aggravate and certain foods help in arthritis symptoms,
In addition to a healthy diet, supplements can also play a role in managing rheumatoid arthritis. Some commonly used supplements for rheumatoid arthritis treatment include
- krill oil,
- glucosamine with chondroitin,
- and vitamin D.
These supplements may help reduce inflammation and provide some relief from symptoms, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen 3.
Physical therapy can help improve joint mobility and strengthen muscles, while lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, stress management, and adequate rest can also contribute to overall well-being 6.
Can you lower the RA factor naturally?
The RA factor, also known as rheumatoid factor, is an antibody that is often present in the blood of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. It is used as a diagnostic marker for the condition, but its presence does not necessarily mean a person has rheumatoid arthritis. Other tests and clinical evaluations are necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
Lowering the RA factor naturally is a topic of interest for many individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. While there is limited scientific research on natural ways to lower the RA factor, some lifestyle modifications may help manage the condition.
- Regular exercise,
- stress reduction techniques like meditation or yoga,
- and maintaining a healthy routine can all contribute to overall well-being and potentially reduce RA symptoms.
In addition to diet, supplements, and lifestyle modifications, holistic approaches to treating rheumatoid arthritis can also be beneficial. Holistic treatments may include acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, and mind-body techniques. These alternative therapies aim to address the whole person and promote overall wellness, potentially reducing arthritis symptoms and improving quality of life 4.
Does this condition affect children?
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a type of arthritis that affects children and adolescents. It is characterised by joint inflammation and stiffness, similar to rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Treatment for JIA may involve a combination of medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential for managing symptoms and preventing long-term joint damage 5.
Managing rheumatoid arthritis involves a comprehensive approach that includes diet and nutrition, supplements, lifestyle modifications, and medical interventions. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis need to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals.
1. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment | Arthritis Foundation [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 17]. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/rheumatoid-arthritis
2. Healthline [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2023 Apr 26]. Everything You Want to Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis
3. Khanna S, Jaiswal KS, Gupta B. Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 May 17];4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5682732/
4. Tiwari V, Jandu JS, Bergman MJ. Rheumatoid Factor. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 28]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532898/
5. Branch NSC and O. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. NIAMS; 2017 [cited 2023 Jul 28]. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). Available from: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/juvenile-arthritis
6. Radu AF, Bungau SG. Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Overview. Cells. 2021 Nov;10(11):2857.
7. Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet Plan: Foods to Eat & Avoid, Arthritis Foundation [Internet]. [cited 2023 May 17]. Available from: https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/rheumatoid-arthritis