Rheumatoid Arthritis | RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect more than just your joints. It is considered an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune disease , the immune system tries to destroy healthy tissue in body for unknown reasons.With Rheumatoid Arthritis, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints ,which causes the joints to get inflammed , swollen and painful. However , RA is systematic, means it can affect other areas of the body in addition to joints .
1) Non joint symptoms –
General non joint symptoms such as fatigue, low grade fever and loss of appetite are early symptoms of RA. Recurrent bouts of fatigue along with a general sense of not feeling well may occur for weeks and months before other symptoms appear. As the time passes by and the disease professes ,these symptoms may get attached with joint related symptoms during a flare.
2) Stiffness –
Morning joint stiffness is a strong indication of RA. It usually lasts for 1-2 hours and may be sometimes longer after prolonged periods of rest on inactivity like of sleeping , watching TV etc.
3) Joint swelling and pain –
When the disease is active , affected joints become red, swollen, painful and feel warm to the touch. In early stages of RA , smaller joints in the hands ,wrists and feet tend to be affected first. Overtime , larger joints in the knees , shoulders , hips and elbows may become affected.
RA symptoms attack symmetrically i.e. if your left wrist is inflammed surely your right wrist likely to be inflammed soon.
4) Rheumatoid Arthritis –
These nodules are firm lumps of tissue that grow under the skin at bony pressure points .Most often these nodules are founder elbows ,but these can be found on other areas of body such as fingers ,over the spine or the heels . They are usually painless and can appear alone or in clusters.
5) Deformity –
Chronic inflammation caused by RA over the long term may cause damage to cartilage , tendons and ligaments .It can lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. In severe RA condition ,we can see twisted fingers and toes bent at unnatural angels in affected patients .Such type of deformity symptoms make motor skills and daily tasks performing more difficulty and challenging for the patient.
6) Symptoms through out the body –
a) Severe dry eyes and mouth.
b) Rheumatoid Inflammation of the lung lining (Pleurisy)
c) Inflammation of the covering of the heart ( Pericarditis)
d) Reduction of the number of healthy red blood cells (Anaemia)
RA occurs when your immune system attacks the synovium, the lining of the membranes that surround your joints. The resulting Inflammation thickens the synovium , which can eventually destroy the cartilage and bone with in the joint. The tendons and ligaments that hold the joint together weaken and gradually the joint loses its shape and alignment
A genetic component appears likely to cause RA. That component make environmental factors – such as infection with certain viruses and bacteria more active to trigger the disease.
Ayurvedic Pathogenesis –
In Ayurveda RA is termed as Amavata. Here Ama (Toxins formed in the body ) is transmitted throughout the body which is the moving energy of Vata and accumulates on the tissues as a sticky layer , including in the joints. Here , blood circulation is essential ,the toxins are spread through the blood in the body. When Vata is out of balance , it can even block the movement of the other two Doshas -without it they are immobile and organs and systems that govern it cannot function .Due to Pitta dosha aggravation food we eat doesn’t digest properly and not degraded and processed evenly .This residual food remain in intestine and produce toxins and make harmful layer of Ama. In case of RA this layer of Ama which is governed by Kapha dosha now start building up in the joints .Thus development of RA is contributed by abnormalities in the three Doshas.
Risk factors –
1) Women are three times more affected than men in this disease. It is often thought to be a condition related to old age ,but it’s not true always. Average onset of RA is between the ages of 30 and 60yrs and children can also get affected from this condition.
2) Family history also induces your risk to develop Rheumatoid Arthritis
3) Cigarette smoking also increases your risk of RA.
4) People especially women age 55 and younger – having obese body structure are at higher risk of developing RA.
1) Rheumatoid Nodules.
2) Dry eyes and mouth.
3) Weak immune system due to which more infection prone.
4) Patients tendency to become fat to lean increases very fast.
5) Carpel tunnel syndrome.
6) Heart problems.
In early stages it is very difficult to say whether patient is suffering from RA or not . As the symptoms progresses your doctor may have idea of your disease being RA on examining you physically.
There are some more ways to diagnose RA which are as follows :-
1) Blood Tests –
People with RA often have an elevated ESR or CRP which indicates the presence of an Inflammatory process in the body.
2) Imaging Test –
X-ray ,MRI and USG also can help to diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis.
There is no cure for RA ,but studies indicate that remission of symptoms is more likely when treatment begins early with medication known as Disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Following are the categories of medication for RA :-
1) NSAIDs –
Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used for relieving pain and reduce inflammation. E.g. Ibuprofen , Naproxen.
2) Steroids –
Corticosteroid medications such as Prednisolone , reduce inflammation and pain and ultimately slow down joint damage.
3) DMARDs –
These drugs can slow the progression of RA and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage. E.g. Methotrexate ,Hydroxychloroquine and Sulphasalazine.
4) Biologic DMARDs –
E.g. Adalimumab ,Certolizumab ,Golimumab ,Tocilizumab ,Etanercept.
Ayurvedic way to treat RA –
1) Patra potli Sweda is beneficial in RA.
2) After Potli Sweda Bashpa Sweda gives more effective results.
3) Janu basti also gives very effective results.
4) Some Ayurvedic herbs can be used in RA –
5) Some medicine to be used in RA –
Guggul itself is a complete medicine for joint pain. Specific guggul to be used in RA is Simhnad Gugglu.
6) Food high in Omega -3 fatty acids is highly beneficial. E.g. fish or if you don’t eat fish ..you could use fish oil .More alternative for omega 3 are Walnuts ,Almonds ,Flax seeds and Chia seeds.
7) Antioxidants like fresh fruits and vegetables ,green tea etc. plays important role in RA beneficial diet.
8) Rich in fiber diet like fresh fruits and vegetables ,whole grains ,beans ,nuts etc .plays more intestine supportive diet to stop making layer of Ama.
9) Spices are not much beneficial for RA except Turmeric which is having anti-inflammatory properties.
10) Pranayam also gives its contribution in resolving Ama and gives relief in RA.
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