Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the joints but can affect other parts of the body, too.
Commonly rheumatoid arthritis can follow food sensitivities, however, bacterial and other infectious diseases can also cause arthropathies (joint problems).
At the onset, arthritis sufferers are from a wide variation in age and the severity and degree of joint involvement varies greatly. The symptoms may came and go and vary over time.
Interestingly, arthritis’s prevalence is lower in under-developed countries.
Symptoms of arthritis
Signs and symptoms of arthritis include:
- joint pain and tenderness
- signs of inflammation such as heat, redness and swelling
- loss of range of motion or flexibility in a joint
- fatigue, occasional fever and a general feeling of malaise
Rheumatoid arthritis often affects the wrist joints and the finger joints nearest to the hand. Arthritis can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints.
If rheumatoid arthritis is left untreated, inflammation may spread to additional joints and may lead to deformity and instability of joints.
Identifying the causes
There are three major theories relating to rheumatoid arthritis:
- Auto-immunity. Rheumatoid factor present in the blood of patients with rheumatoid arthritis has been shown to be immunoglobulin – an antibody to IgG.
- Genetics. Rheumatoid arthritis has generally been shown to be more prevalent in families of patients with this type of arthritis. Evidence seems to point to a weak genetic component; however, common environmental factors may also play a part.
- Infections. The clinical picture of rheumatoid arthritis is reminiscent of infection. However, at this time, no infective organism has been isolated.
It is known that rheumatoid arthritics suffer from multiple deficiencies. One study found pernicious anaemia is five times commoner in rheumatoid suffers than in study group controls.
Two-thirds of rheumatoid arthritics have low serum folate levels and increased excretion of formiminoglutamic acid in their urine. One-third have low levels of red blood cell folate. One-fifth have early megaloblastic changes in cells obtained by marrow aspiration.
To overcome nutritional deficiencies, is has been suggested that suffers should have a high protein diet and that it might be beneficial for it to be gluten-free. Sufferers should have supplements of iron, folic acid, calcium, possibly vitamin K and pantothenic acid. Zinc sulphate may also be useful.
It is possible that parasites may, in some cases, be responsible for infecting joints. In a large group of people who have rheumatoid arthritis affecting the temporomandibular joints, where these joints have been removed surgically, the tissues were found to be infected with organisms such as Chlamydia (a parasite) and Mycoplasma (a bacterium without a cell wall). Rickettsiae have also been suggested as infecting organisms. These are all difficult to identify in sufferers from symptoms alone.
Treatment of arthritis
At Breakspear Medical, we can search for a variety of conditionals that may be responsible for arthritis using accredited laboratory tests.
The conditions we regularily look for are:
- Lyme borreliosis
- Chlamydia trachomatis
- Chlamydia psittaci
- Mycoplasma fermentans
- Mycoplasma genitalium
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
These conditions can be treated with antimicrobial agents.
We can also run tests to provide information about gut function and bacterial and yeast overgrowth and evaluate nutritional status. Our doctors will consider and treat food allergy, as well as evaluate environmental factors as the primary way of dealing with rheumatoid arthritis.
Breakspear Medical treats each patient individually, which means that there is no standard treatment programme for arthritis at a set price. After your first appointment, you will be given a detailed estimate, with your recommended treatment programme in detail with all the costs, which will be explained to you by your Patient Liaison Officer. On the day of your appointment or anytime afterward, if you have any specific questions regarding prices, estimates and treatment programmes, please contact a Patient Liaison Officer, by phone 01442 261 333 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org