Whilst the cause of Rheumatoid arthritis is not known, the condition is known to be autoimmune i.e. it is triggered by the immune system when it attacks the body’s tissues or joints (as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis), and treats them like pathogens. Although most cases of Rheumatoid arthritis affect the joints a few other body systems are affected in some cases, like; the heart, skin, lungs and even the eyes.
Joint stiffness (especially in the morning and after inactivity), swollen joints, tender joints, fatigue and fever amongst others are some of the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Due to the inconveniences caused by these symptoms, it is important for someone with rheumatoid arthritis to know how to manage the condition. In this article you’ll learn some natural remedies in managing rheumatoid arthritis, especially traditional approaches and in the area of diet.
Traditional therapies that can be used to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Less strenuous forms of exercise like biking, swimming, and walking are beneficial to people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. These forms of exercise helps in strengthening muscles around joints, reducing the swells in joints as well as, easing pains caused by the disease. Stretching too is a form of exercise that can help relieve symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the hands and wrists.
Consultation with a physiotherapist, before embarking on an exercise regimen, is advised.
2. MASSAGE TREATMENT
Treatment with massage, or massage therapy, helps with Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms and it is one of the most important self-care regimen that someone with the disease should engage in. Therapies like deep tissue massage, hot stone massage and Trigger point massage are very helpful massage treatments that can be provided in a spa or a chiropractic clinic. A physiotherapist also provides these massage services too.
Acupuncture is an age-long medical practice by the Chinese. In this practice, very thin needles are inserted into certain points in the body to stimulate energy along meridians (pathways) in the body and to correct energy imbalances in the body. Researches have shown that acupuncture lowers the level of substances in the body that are responsible for inflammation, hence its adoption into western medical practice in managing people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
This is a form of cold treatment, where the body is exposed to cold for a short period of time under certain conditions. Traditionally, it can be done at home by wrapping ice in a towel and applying the wrapped ice on the skin for not more than 15 minutes at a time. In modern times, a cryosauna tank is used. In this facility, the body is exposed to temperatures below -200OF for 2-3 minutes.
Cryotherapy has been shown to decrease inflammation and joint swelling.
5. HEAT TREATMENT
Heat treatment should be done in a way that would not cause a burn or thermal injury. Microwavable hot packs can be used to apply not-too-hot heat to the body for not more than 15 minutes. This technique increases blood flow to joints and by extension relaxes tensed muscles around aching joints.
Modern innovative methods of heat treatments used for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients include Infrared Light Therapy and LED light therapy.
Dietary management of Rheumatoid Arthritis
● Foods that should be taken: There are foods with properties that help in lowering the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They include:
1. WHOLE GRAINS: whole grains like wheat, corn, brown rice, barley, sorghum, millet, rye and oats contains anti-oxidants that are anti-inflammatory in nature.
2. FRUITS: cherries, berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries), citrus fruits (limes, lemon, and oranges), and peaches are some of the fruits that help maintain Rheumatoid Arthritis conditions. Most of these fruits are anti-inflammatory. While cherries and berries contain powerful anti-oxidants like anthocyanin that stave off inflammation, citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C which boosts the immune system.
3. FATTY FISH: fatty fishes, often referred to as cold-water fishes, are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids which lower inflammation. Fatty fishes include; salmons, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
Fish should be baked rather than fried or grilled.
4. OLIVE OIL: Out of the three major types of olive oil – virgin, extra virgin and refined olive oil – extra virgin oil should be used since it has higher anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil should be used in regulated amounts.
5. BEANS: These are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals which can boost the immune system, such as; zinc, iron and potassium. They also contain high level of fiber which can decrease inflammation. Kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans are popular kinds of beans.
● Foods that should be avoided: the following foods should be avoided, as they may escalate the Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms, in one way or another:
1. RED MEAT: Red meat intake should be reduced or replaced entirely with fatty fish. This is because red meat contains high levels Omega-6 fatty acid and saturated fats, which contributes to inflammation, as opposed to Omega-3 fatty acid contained in fatty fish which is anti-inflammatory.
2. GRILLED OR FRIED FOOD: Grilled foods may contain high amounts of Advanced Glycation End-products, or AGEs, which increases inflammation. Fried foods, on the other hand, contain high levels of trans fat, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils, all of which contribute to inflammation. Grilled or fried foods should be replaced with baked or steamed foods.
3. ALCOHOL: Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to trouble for a Rheumatoid Arthritis patient, because negative interactions with medications may occur. For instance, when you take Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and also take alcohol, you’re at increased risk of having stomach ulcer.
4. SUGARS: Sugars – in the form of Natural sugars (e.g. fructose, sucrose, maltose etc.), refined carbohydrates (present in pastas, white bread, yam and white rice), or artificial sugars (like saccharine and aspartame) – should be avoided by someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis, because they trigger inflammation when digested.
5. GLUTEN-CONTAINING FOOD: Grains like wheat, rye, barley, and millet contain a form of protein known as gluten. This protein when ingested may cause allergic reactions or inflammation. So, Rheumatoid Arthritis patients should rather opt for a gluten-free diet.