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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when your body's immune system attacks and destroys the tissues that make up your joints. The joints become swollen, stiff, and painful. In later stages, the joints can become deformed. Other areas of your body can also be affected, including your lungs, heart, blood vessels, and eyes. About 1 percent of the U.S. population suffers from RA. Typically, it strikes between the ages of 30 and 60, but it can occur at any age.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
Medical researchers do not know why RA develops. Genes may play some as yet unknown role. It also is possible that a change in the body, such as an infection or hormonal shift, can trigger its development.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will assess the swelling and pain in each joint and will likely ask you to demonstrate how well you can use that joint. During the physical examination, your provider will take your temperature and check your lymph nodes and spleen for swelling. Your provider may order X-rays and blood and urine tests. In some cases, a small amount of fluid may be taken from the affected joint for examination. These tests help rule out other causes of your symptoms and confirm a diagnosis of RA.
Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preserving joint function. Rest helps to generally reduce the inflammation response in the body. Exercise helps to maintain joint motion and strength. Heat and cold also are used to reduce symptoms. There are various drugs available for RA. Some newly developed experimental drugs attack the cells in your immune system that destroy joint tissue. In severe cases of joint destruction or deformation, surgery may be necessary.
Over the Counter
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
The goal of therapy is to decrease inflammation and preserve joint function. Treatment is long term.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots.
Devil's claw and three to five of the above herbs can be mixed as either tincture 30 to 60 drops three times per day, or 1 cup tea three times per day.
Some of the most common remedies used for rheumatoid arthritis are listed below. Usually, the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until your symptoms get better.
May decrease pain and joint inflammation, and slow progress of RA
May be helpful in relieving symptoms and increasing mobility
Make regular visits to your health care provider to monitor the progress of the disease and side effects of drugs you may be taking.
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