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Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a devastating disorder that is caused by the immune system attacking its own healthy tissue. This is referred to as an autoimmune disease. This inflammatory disorder results in many organs in the body being adversely affected, but it is most significantly disabling to the joints and supporting structures such as connective tissue affecting the tendons and ligaments. RA is serious, and overtime is crippling.
The onset of RA symptoms can be slow at first often seen with mild stiffness in the morning, joint discomfort, and perhaps periodic low-grade fever. The symptoms usually intensify overtime. However, there are people who seemingly develop RA overnight. One patient I had developed RA suddenly after tripping and falling to her knees. The next day she was in dire straits with severe joint immobility and pain.
Current statistics from the Arthritis Foundation place adult individuals with RA at approximately 1.3 million, an estimated 1% of the United States population. Women outnumber men 3:1 with RA diagnosis, and the average age of onset is between 30 to 60 years. There are approximately 300,000 children diagnosed with another inflammatory arthritic condition called Juvenile Arthritis which is similar to RA.
So What Causes RA:
The causes of RA are multifactorial. Medical researchers agree that likely a combination of genetics and environmental factors play a role. Some of these factors for the potential development of RA are:
1. Stress – chemical reactions to stressful events such as physical or emotional trauma.
3. Acute and chronic infections – viruses and bacteria (including Lyme Disease) can be triggers
4. Food reactions – this is evidence by improvements in RA with elimination diets
5. Intestinal imbalances – often from chronic bacterial infections
6. Toxic heavy metal accumulation
For most individuals who suffer with these conditions there is a myriad of different problems. No two people are exactly alike and so the combination of problems leading to RA can be individualized. In fact, it is not uncommon for an average person with RA to display 4 to 6 factors ranging from dietary sensitivities, hormone imbalances to chronic infections.
Even though no two people are exactly alike and each person’s experience with RA may be different, there are core issues that seem to contribute to the majority of people suffering with this condition such as food sensitivities (like gluten), digestive imbalances of yeast and bacteria, immune problems from chronic infection, hormone issues (adrenal, sex hormone, thyroid) and environmental toxicity. All of these can be addressed with complementary medical therapies and specialized diagnostic testing.
Dr. Woeller is available for consultations to discuss various integrative medical therapies helpful for Rheumatoid and other inflammatory and degenerative arthritis. He can be contacted HERE.