Rheumatoid Arthritis Information

Rheumatoid Arthritis Information

Rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA, is a common rheumatic and autoimmune disease. It affects around 1.3 million Americans, or roughly 1% of the population. Women are three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men and while the disease may begin at any age, it most often begins after age forty and before age sixty. It should be noted that rheumatoid arthritis in children is termed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

 

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Anatomy As It Relates To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Joints are the spaces where two or more bones make contact. For example, the shoulder joint is where the humerus attaches to the scapula. The surface of the bones inside joints are covered by cushioning cartilage and a slippery lubricating fluid, called synovial fluid.

The joint capsule forms a wall around the joint by attaching to the bone above and below the joint. Ligaments prevent the bones from coming apart and tendons allow the muscles to move the bones that make up the joint.

Overall, the joint is a key element in human anatomy, especially as far as motion is concerned.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term describing joint inflammation. There are multiple types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic and usually progressive inflammatory type of arthritis. However, those with rheumatoid arthritis may experience long remission periods (sometimes years) of going without symptoms.

It’s also considered an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the body, by way of the immune system, mistakenly attacks non-diseased body tissue. After the immune system is mistakenly triggered to attack, immune cells travel from the blood stream to the affected joint and synovium joint lining. This causes an inflammatory response, irritation to the joint structure and lining, and eventually wears down cartilage. The space between the bones narrows as cartilage wears down, thereby allowing friction between bones that normally do not have surface contact. The inflammation of the joint lining may invade adjacent bones (erosion). Tendons and ligaments weaken and stretch to the point that they can no longer hold the joint together properly. As rheumatoid arthritis continues, the joint may become deformed and misaligned.

Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the hand, wrist, knee, ankle, and foot joints, but it may occur in larger joints as well. It typically symmetrically affects corresponding joints; for example, both left and right wrists or both left and right knees.

This form of arthritis is also a systemic disease, meaning that it may result in inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding organs, like the lungs and eyes; tendons; ligaments; and muscles.

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Despite rheumatoid arthritis being a popular research topic and a commonly diagnosed condition, the exact causes remains a mystery. There’s been a great deal of genetic research. Many families seem to have multiple members affected with rheumatoid arthritis. Certain infections, such as fungal and bacterial, and environmental factors, such as smoking, have been research topics, but there’s yet to be agreement in the scientific community as to whether or not these elements are "causes" of rheumatoid arthritis.

What Are The General Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis?

* affected joint pain and inflammation
* affected joint may be tender to touch, red, and warm
* rheumatoid nodules (firm bumps under the skin)
* early morning stiffness
* fatigue
* fever
* weight loss
* joint deformity
* joint weakness (simply turning a door knob or opening a door may be very difficult)
* loss of joint function

Key Points About Rheumatoid Arthritis

* rheumatoid arthritis usually affects smaller joints first, but may progress to the larger joints.
* it affects everyone a little differently - some may have a gradual progression of joint symptoms. Others may experience a rapid onset.
* some may experience symptoms for a period of time, enter a remission period, and then experience a relapse of symptoms. In other words, symptoms may flare up and go away spontaneously or after treatment.
* in the event organs are involved, the symptoms will be specific to the affected organ. For example, inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the eye may cause dryness, whereas inflammation of the pleural lining of the lung may cause shortness of breath and coughing.

 

Exercises

1. In relation to a degenerative arthritic condition, the goal of any exercise is to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint and maintain range of motion to prevent joint degeneration from progressing. Of course, this must be done without overly stressing the anatomical structures. The Stretching and Strengthening exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility, while not further inflaming or irritating the joint.


Massage Treatment

1. The arthritic joints should be massaged regularly.

2. One at a time, you should gently take hold of and release each muscle group surrounding the joint.

3. Depress and propel your fingers in a circular pattern around the soft tissues of the joint, paying special attention to the crevices near joints and between bones.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the arthritic area because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured arthritic area, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured arthritic area as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the arthritic area, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the arthritic area, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the arthritic area can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your arthritic area to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the arthritic area. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your arthritic area with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in the arthritic area that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your arthritic area may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your arthritic area you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the arthritic area, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your arthritic area with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. Sinew Injury Poultice and/or the Sinew Warming Soak can be used in-between applications.

2. Apply the Sinew Injury Poultice on your arthritic area to relieve residual pain and stiffness, significantly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and further promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Injury Poultice is particularly useful if your arthritic area is more painful in cold and damp weather. Chronic Sinew Liniment and/or the Sinew Warming Soak can be used in-between applications.

3. Soak your arthritic area with the Sinew Warming Soak to ease joint pain, increase range of motion, and strongly increase local circulation to drive coldness and dampness out of damaged tissues. The Sinew Warming Soak is particularly useful if your arthritic area is more painful and sensitive to cold or hurts more in cold weather. The soak can be used by saturating a towel in the liquid and applying it to your arthritic area. Chronic Sinew Liniment and/or the Sinew Injury Poultice can be used in-between applications.

4. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.