By recognizing symptoms of early rheumatoid arthritis, joint inflammation can be addressed before damage to the joints occurs, thereby preventing long-term consequences of the disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disease of the autoimmune system. RA occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the synovium — the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. Joint erosion may follow.
Barbara Griffin, NMD, CNC, Certified Gluten Practitioner, and director of Vital Health, Inc. explained, “Early RA tends to affect the smaller joints first, such as the joints that attach the fingers and toes feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. RA can affect the organs as well.”
RA signs and symptoms may vary in severity and may even come and go. Periods of increased disease activity, called flares, alternate with periods of relative remission. Over time, RA can cause joints to deform and shift out of place.
“Through early detection, proper management of RA can be used to optimize the health status throughout the body. If a person has early warning symptoms of RA along with a family history of RA, or already has a diagnosed autoimmune disease, it is essential they start supporting the body in order to prevent progression of the disease,” remarked Dr. Griffin.
Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of RA
1. One or more finger-knuckle joints will swell. Redness and warmth of the knuckle joints may be present.
2. Tenderness on the balls of feet, even swelling under the foot. Pain may be worse when first getting out of bed.
3. Flu-like symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue and possible weight loss.
4. Bumps on the elbows. Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms (rheumatoid nodules).
5. Joints are stiff for more than one hour in the morning. Stiffness that lasts for several hours is generally a symptom of inflammatory arthritis, and is typical of RA. You may also feel stiffness after any period of prolonged inactivity like napping or sitting.
6. Inflammation of tendons creating pressure on your nerves. This may cause numbness, tingling, or a burning feeling in your hands referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome or in the feet as plantar fasciitis.
7. Other symptoms can include dry mouth or dry itchy inflamed eyes, chest pain when breathing and difficulty sleeping.
Prevention and Symptom Management
1. Avoid Foods That Trigger Inflammation
While some foods seem to ease inflammation, compounds in others have been found to increase it. The following foods have been attributed to raising inflammation levels in the body and should be avoided:
- Fried and processed foods
- Dairy products
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Salt and preservatives
- Corn oil
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Eating hamburgers, chicken, or other meats that have been grilled or fried at high temperatures can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AEGs) in the blood. High levels of AGEs have been detected in people with inflammation (1)
2. Gluten’s Connection With RA
“RA is an autoimmune disease. Gluten is one of the most common food sensitivity linked to autoimmune disease,” explained Dr. Griffin who is a Certified Gluten Practitioner and trained expert in gluten and the harmful effects it can have on the body. “Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease linkage needs to be ruled out if a person has an autoimmune disease. The elimination of gluten in the diet can be so powerful that there is hope to lessen the systems of RA, possibly eliminate the need for multiple medications, and most importantly prevent other autoimmune disease.”
Symptoms of arthritis, which include joint pain and stiffness, are also symptoms of the immune response caused by celiac disease. People who are gluten sensitive or who have been diagnosed with celiac disease may experience joint pain, swelling, and stiffness if they eat foods with gluten.
These similar symptoms make celiac disease difficult to diagnose. In fact, it’s commonly confused with other conditions, such as arthritis. It is important to discuss with your doctor all of your symptoms even those that may seem unrelated. In addition to looking at the joints, especially if you have a family history of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it is important that the intestines are not overlooked for they are often the root cause.
3. Nourish the Body With Nutritional Supplements
Dr. Griffin explains, “Certain nutritional substances can help alleviate RA. Addressing nutritional deficiencies that have been genetically linked to RA and other autoimmune diseases can help prevent the diseases or slow down its progression. The most commonly observed vitamin and mineral deficiencies in patients with RA include:
- Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. Try ProVitality Vitamin D.
- Zinc alleviates joint swelling and morning stiffness associated with RA. Many people with RA are deficient in Zinc.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency does not cause arthritis but may worsen anemia in patients with RA. Anemia is a common problem in patients with RA, according to the National Anemia Action Council. RA patients may experience anemia because of gastrointestinal bleeding caused by the chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (2) Additionally, B6 can help elevate inflammation. Vital Essence offers B-12 Folate and Methyl-B12 Lozenge. Autoimmune conditions frequently have the MTHFR gene link, which inhibits the methylation (absorption) of B12/folic acid/B6 necessitating the need for the methylated forms of B12 and folic acid.
- Folic Acid is a B vitamin that promotes health and supports the body’s metabolism. Some common RA drugs interfere with how the body uses folic acid. As a result, many RA patients become deficient in folic acid.
- Coconut Oil appears to reduce damage caused by the overactive immune system. Try ProVitality Coconut Oil, its rich antioxidants formula can help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis.
Vital Health, Inc. suggests talking to physician before beginning any supplement regimen.
About Vital Health, Inc.:
At Vital Health, Inc. Dr. Griffin integrates a whole body approach with the intention of facilitating wellbeing and optimal health amongst her clients. Dr. Griffin’s specialties include: traditional naturopathy, nutrition, EAV Meridian Stress Assessment, Food Sensitivity Screening, Environmental Screenings, Iridology, SKASYS, Live Blood Cell Analysis as well as established integrative therapies such as Neuroemotional Therapy, Neuromodulation Technique, Cold Laser and clinician for Spectracell Laboratories, Inc. Vital Health, Inc. Is located within the office complex of the Orland Park Crossing, 14225 S. 95th Avenue Suite 409, Orland Park IL, 60462. 708-226-1131.http://www.vitalhealth.org