Is rheumatoid arthritis curable?
In the UK, rheumatoid arthritis affects over 400,000 people, and often starts when a person is aged between 40 and 50 years old, with women being three times more likely to be affected than men.
Unlike other arthritis conditions, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints in the body leading to swelling, stiffness and pain. This long-term condition usually affects the hands, feet and wrists, and sufferers may also experience other general symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss.
Denise Callaghan, Osteopath, says: “However, there are some treatments likes osteopathy and acupuncture that can help relieve the pain.”
What causes rheumatoid arthritis?
According to the NHS, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is largely believed to be a deficiency in the autoimmune system. This leads to the immune system – which usually fights infection – attacking the cells which cover the joint, making them stiff, swollen and painful. Over time this causes damage to the joint itself, surrounding bone and the cartilage.
And while the trigger for this problem is not clear, certain people are at increased risk of developing this condition:
- Those with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis
What are the symptoms?
Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the joints and their range of mobility. It can affect any joint in the body, but it tends to the hands and feet primarily. It typically affects joints symmetrically – so both feet or both hands.
As stated by the NHS, the main symptoms include:
- pain in the joint – usually a throbbing or aching feeling;
- stiffness – for example being unable to bend fingers or form a fist;
- swelling – joints can become inflamed causing them to swell or become tender to touch.
- tiredness and lack of energy;
- poor appetite;
- weight loss;
- high temperature;
- dry eyes;
- chest pain.
What is the cure?
At the moment, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis. However, there are many treatments that can bring relief, help manage the pain and reduce the risk of flare ups.
As well as medication, many people with rheumatoid arthritis try complementary therapies such as:
- Osteopathy– treatment can help improve mobility and reduce pain giving a patient confidence to carry on with exercise and daily living.
- Acupuncture – this can reduce pain and inflammation which is a major component of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Hydrotherapy – can help to ease pain and improve mobility in the joints
- Occupational therapy – can help you to find ways to continue work, household tasks and hobbies without straining the joints further
Tell me more about Osteopathy and acupuncture
Periodic osteopathy treatments or courses of acupuncture can aid the relief of symptoms experienced by those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Acupuncture, which was founded over 3000 years ago in China, is the practice of inserting of needles to restore mental and physical wellness by stimulating pressure points within the body. This stimulation releases endorphins and allows the free flow of energy to continue.
Recent research suggests acupuncture may hold a beneficial role in treatment for those with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One review saw researchers conclude: “Acupuncture alone or combined with other treatment modalities is beneficial to the clinical conditions of RA and can improve function and quality of life, and is worth trying.” The review cites a variety of ways acupuncture can impact this condition including by reducing the anti-inflammatory nature, having an antioxidative effect and regulation of immune system function.
Osteopath, Denise is trained in both Medical and Traditional Chinese Medical Acupuncture. She has also studied alongside experts in China to perfect her technique.