If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you likely deal with pain on a chronic basis as do my patients who have the condition. You may use prescription, or over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medications and/or pain killers to relieve your symptoms. That’s why I think you’ll be amazed to learn of an amazing new way that researchers have discovered to deal with rheumatoid arthritis pain. I feel optimistic that it will allow RA sufferers to manage their pain with less and less reliance on drugs and other treatments. Let me tell you about it – I think you’ll find it pretty interesting.
Messenger Molecule Key to Dealing with RA Pain
Researchers out of Melbourne, Australia had previously discovered a group of molecules that assisted in blood cell development. One of these molecules, GM-CSF (short for granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor), was found to be a ‘messenger’ molecule that moves between cells at a site of inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in rheumatoid arthritis. It’s what creates pain and tenderness of the joint that can result in immobility.
Recently, two other researchers, Drs. John Hamilton and Andrew Cook, wondered if blocking the “message sending” capability of GM-CSF could lead to a new pain treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. If the molecule could not deliver its “pain message”, so to speak, than the RA sufferer would not have pain.
Previously, the two researchers had shown that blocking GM-CSF with an antibody showed good results in suppressing RA. More clinical trials in this process ensued resulting in even more benefits to patients. The two went on to show that blocking the GM-CSF molecule not only suppressed the disease process but also suppressed the pain associated with it. And, this process also had similar benefits for osteoarthritis as well. The researchers concluded that new therapies targeted at blocking GM-CSF could have enormous benefit to RA and OA sufferers.
Other Ways to Help Manage Your RA Flare-Ups
While researchers are perfecting therapies that block the GM-CSF molecule, there are also some other ways which can help you manage your RA. These include:
- Foods: Certain foods aggravate inflammation. Recent research out of Oslo, Norway has finally proved that food allergies many be linked to RA. They found that people with RA had higher levels of antibodies in intestinal fluids to proteins from cow’s milk, cereal, hen’s eggs, codfish and pork. The intestines are the seat of the immune system and are the first to recognize allergens in the body. RA is an autoimmune disease, so you may actually be allergic to these foods, and others, if you notice RA flare ups after certain meals.
- Pets: Specifically cats. New research has also shown that the Bartonella species of viruses (most frequently carried by cats, dogs, and ticks) have been found to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Bartonella is carried by fleas and can cause a condition most commonly called “cat scratch fever”. Cats can carry Bartonella henselae in their blood for years and infect their owners from a scratch or even handling litter box material with an open cut on your hands. A high percentage of participants studied with RA were found to have Bartonella henselae antibodies in their blood from exposure.
- Natural anti-inflammatories: As inflammation is the key factor in fighting the pain of RA, therapies targeting at reducing inflammation is necessary. There are many excellent natural anti-inflammatories available. These include: turmeric extract (curcumin) Boswellia serrata (Indian Frankincense), green lipped mussel (excellent source of Omega-3’s), fish/krill oil (Omega’3’s) quercetin, bromelain, ginger root extract, Vitamin C. Vitamin D acts as a natural steroid in the body to reduce inflammation and pain. It regulates genes on the DNA level to reduce inflammation. Recent research has also shown that many people are deficient in Vitamin D. Have your levels tested and boost with supplements 1-2,000 IU a day. Magnesium is also a powerful anti-inflammatory mineral that, again, research has proven many people to be deficient in, especially those over 50. Supplement with 250 mg to 500 mg a day. Homeopathic mixtures of arnica, dulcamara, and Bryonia are reputable for reducing pain, inflammation and swelling of joints.
- Exercise: Research shows that RA patients have less pain, joint swelling, stiffness and inflammation by doing regular exercise. Bicycling, swimming in a warm pool, even rebounding on a mini-trampoline helps you get much needed exercise while not putting much, if any, impact on your joints. Exercise increases “feel good” chemicals that boost your mood as well. The more you move, the more you will be able to keep moving.
- Control your weight: Recently, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found a connection between obesity and the development of RA. Fat cells put out a harmful chemical called a cytokine that creates inflammation all over the body, including joints.
- Don’t smoke. The toxins in cigarette smoke really add fuel to the inflammation flames. RA sufferers who smoke have many more flare-ups and have more pain and stiffness.
Chronic pain can be a tough condition to live with. If you suffer with rheumatoid arthritis, stay hopeful, as there are new, promising therapies just around the corner that will be available for your use. For now, if you adhere to the recommendations given here, you should be able to minimize, and better control, your RA flare-ups. Do see your doctor regularly.
Mark Bromson, M.D.
Natural Health News
New Attack on pain caused by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821094446.htm
Rheumatoid arthritis diet – foods that cause inflammation, http://www.arthritistoday.org/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/nutrition-and-ra/ra-food-allergies.php
Bartonella infection associated with rheumatoid illness in humans, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120423131848.htm
5 Best Anti Inflammatory Supplements: Are You Taking These? http://www.naturallyreduceinflammation.com/best-anti-inflammatory-supplements-are-you-taking-these/
Magnesium – the Anti-Inflammatory Mineral, http://www.wellnessresources.com/health/articles/magnesium_the_anti-inflammatory_mineral/
photo credit: arthritiscauses.net