Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune inflammatory disease. When you have RA, your immune system targets the tissues that line your joints, leading to pain and mobility issues.
It’s a chronic condition that can worsen as time passes. However, it does respond well to lifestyle changes and other types of therapies. If you’d like to find natural remedies to help you manage the pain that RA causes, read on to learn more about the most effective options.
Exercise: Easing Pain with Movement
It can be tough to think about moving and being active when you’re dealing with RA pain, but exercise can help. In particular, exercise can reduce your chances of muscle wasting, which is a concern for those with RA. Muscle wasting can in turn worsen fatigue, leading to a cycle of inactivity that only exacerbates the symptoms of the condition.
Strengthening your muscles can help diminish pain by making them better able to support your joints. This helps improve flexibility and joint movement. Regular physical activity can also keep the cartilage in your joints lubricated, reducing stiffness and pain.
You don’t have to go for strenuous exercise to get the benefits you want. Consider beginning with easier stretching exercises and progressing to more intensive options as you get stronger. You can also try balancing exercises to help prevent falls, as well as swimming or walking to keep your heart healthy.
Acupuncture: Trying Traditional Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture has been in practice for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest forms of pain relief. It uses long and very thin needles to stimulate energy along your body using what are called meridian points. Acupuncture is based on the belief that your body needs to have a balanced qi (energy) to function at its best, and that’s what the needles help you achieve.
For those with RA, acupuncture appears to:
Lower various chemicals in the body that lead to inflammation
Ease emotional issues the disease can cause, such as depression and anxiety
Increase blood flow to the treatment areas, bringing more nutrients and oxygen
In turn, those extra nutrients and oxygen help make cartilage and other tissues healthier and stronger.
Heat and Cold: Alternating Temperatures for Relief
Heat and cold are both helpful in easing the pain that RA can cause. Heat can increase blood flow to the treatment area, helping to relax muscles while easing joint pain. It is often particularly helpful to use heat in the morning, right before you start your daily activities.
You can choose for your heat therapy to be moist or dry. Some options include:
Warm and damp compresses
Hot shower or bath
A hot wax (paraffin) bath if you have pain in your hands or feet
You always want to ensure that neither the baths nor compresses are too hot since you don’t want to damage your skin.
Cold therapy is also helpful, especially when dealing with acute pain and flare-ups. This therapy can constrict blood flow to the joints, which helps reduce inflammation while also slowing down the pain signals your joints send to your brain. It can reduce the accumulation of fluids in the joints as well.
Cold therapy is simple; there are many cold packs available, or you can make your own. Limit cold therapy to about 20 minutes a few times a day.
Turmeric: Adding the Spice to Your Diet
Turmeric is a spice belonging to the ginger family. It’s originally from Indonesia and India and features prominently in traditional medicine from those regions.
The curcumin in the spice can block proteins that cause inflammation and can work as well as NSAIDs at easing pain. Curcumin is able to help ease symptoms of immune diseases like RA as well as inflammatory bowel disease. It can help decrease morning stiffness and joint swelling.
If you’d like to try turmeric for RA, you can find it in supplements, teas, and the spice itself.
Capsaicin Gels and Creams: Harnessing the Chili Pepper’s Heat
Gels and creams made from capsaicin — the reason chili peppers are hot — can also help relieve RA pain.
When you apply it to your skin, this chemical creates a tingling or mild burning sensation. It works by reducing substance P, which plays a role in sending pain signals to the brain. This substance is also involved in activating inflammatory reactions in your joints.
Don’t use capsaicin substances with heat pads since doing so can increase the burning sensation to a painful level. Instead, you should use these gels by applying them to the affected area two to three times a day.
Deep Breathing: Achieving Relaxation Through Breath
When you start taking deep and steady breaths, it triggers a relaxation response throughout your body that not only relaxes your muscles but also deactivates your stress receptors. As you breathe deeply, you’re also getting more oxygen into your muscles, helping with relaxation.
One way to do deep breathing is to take a slow and steady breath through your nose while keeping your mouth closed. Doing a few of these throughout the day can make a difference.
Massage Therapy: Easing Pain Out of the Muscles
Massage therapy has the potential to relieve stress and release the tension that RA can cause. It can improve circulation, allowing more oxygen to flow throughout your body and helping to reduce inflammation. Having less tension in your muscles encourages you to stay active, which can help alleviate RA symptoms.
With the many types of massage therapies out there, you can choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. If you have any skin irritations or find that certain essential oils make your RA symptoms worse, let the massage therapist know so they can avoid them.
Stem cell therapy is an alternative option involving stem cells to repair, replace, or regenerate damaged cells and tissues in the body.
It involves using stem cells, often derived from the patient’s own body (autologous stem cells) to reduce inflammation, improve joint function, and help repair tissue damage associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Getting Help for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a complex condition. However, by turning to medications as well as natural remedies, you can get the relief you need. You don’t have to go through daily discomfort when there are options available.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have demonstrated the ability to differentiate into a number of different cells; they also demonstrate immunomodulatory properties that have great potential for use as a stem cell-based therapeutic treatment option and for the treatment of autoimmune diseases – including rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA is a chronic and debilitating inflammatory disorder that not only affects the joints, muscles, and tendons, but also damages a number of other body systems, including the eyes, skin, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. It is estimated that roughly 1.5 million Americans are afflicted by RA. While the exact cause of RA is not yet fully understood, the condition is one of over 80 known autoimmune diseases occurring as a result of the immune system mistakenly attacking the body’s own healthy tissue.
Current treatment of RA primarily involves the use of steroids and antirheumatic drugs used primarily to manage associated symptoms of the condition, rather than treat the condition itself. These drugs are also commonly associated with a number of unwanted side effects with users often developing resistance to the medication after prolonged use.
Considering the relative ineffectiveness of drugs designed to treat RA and RA-associated symptoms, scientists have turned to investigate the use of MSC-based therapy as a potential treatment for RA.
As part of this investigation, Sarsenova et al. examined both conventional and modern RA treatment approaches, including MSC-based therapy, by examining the connection between these stem cells and the innate and adaptive immune systems. This review also evaluates recent preclinical and clinical approaches to enhancing the immunoregulatory properties of MSCs.
Through a number of in vitro studies, researchers have realized that MSCs have the ability to inhibit the proliferation of effector memory T cells which, in turn, prevents the proliferation of inflammatory cytokine production. Additionally, these studies have also demonstrated that MSCs are able to modulate functions of the innate immune system by inducting the inflammatory process and activating the adaptive immune system.
Preclinical studies have demonstrated the ability of MSCs to suppress inflammation both through interactions with cells of the immune system and through paracrine mechanisms. This has been demonstrated to be very important as cells of the innate immune system have been shown to have an important role in both the development and progression of RA.
While a number of clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness of MSC-based therapies for the treatment of RA were still ongoing at the time of publication, the nine completed studies primarily demonstrated that using MSCs for the treatment of RA is safe, well tolerated in both the short and long-term, and provides clinical improvements in RA patients.
Despite the many positive and promising outcomes observed through these clinical trials, the authors of this review also point out some limitations associated with the treatment of RA with MSCs. These limitations include many of the referenced studies lacking a placebo control, low enrollment in some studies, and a lack of optimal protocol (for both MSC sourcing and route of administration) for RA treatment with MSCs.
Considering these limitations, Sarsenova et al. point out the need for more well-defined and effective therapeutic windows for the treatment of RA with MSCs, including MSC priming to promote an anti-inflammatory phenotype, in a future study as a way to better understand the perceived benefits of a stem-cell therapy for the treatment of RA and other autoimmune diseases.
The chronic inflammatory disorder rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects the joint lining, causing painful swelling. Since there is not yet a permanent cure for the condition, the treatment goal is to put a patient’s RA into remission, where the symptoms are well controlled.
RA remission is more complicated than it seems, and there are many vital facts to know if you have RA.
1. Remission Doesn’t Mean “Without Symptoms”
The Arthritis Foundation defines remission as having limited symptoms of the condition. Since this definition can be subjective, researchers have developed criteria to use in clinical trials. These remission criteria include:
Only one or fewer swollen joints
Only one or fewer tender joints
The patient assesses arthritis activity as a one or less on a 0–10 scale
A blood test evaluating inflammation shows little to no inflammation
If any of these criteria aren’t met, a patient is not in remission.
2. Remission Can Last for Any Length of Time
Some patients with RA experience remission for a few weeks, and others for a year or longer. There is no guarantee that remission will last for a specific duration.
3. Early Treatment Increases Odds of Remission
While RA symptoms need to persist for six weeks for a doctor to diagnose the condition, the sooner the inflammation is controlled, the better your chances of achieving remission. Since inflammation from RA can cause long-term changes in the joints, patients need aggressive treatment to get the condition under control.
While some patients may be able to cut back on their medication while their RA is in remission, for others, that will cause a relapse. Medication adjustments require your doctor’s guidance to maintain control over your symptoms.
6. Relapses Are Unavoidable
Unfortunately, almost all patients who go into RA remission experience a relapse at some point. If you’ve experienced a flare-up after remission, schedule an appointment with your physician immediately so you can make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack its own tissue and specifically affects the lining of the joints, resulting in painful swelling, bone erosion, and eventually permanent joint deformity.
With an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. living with RA, the disease affects nearly three times as many women as men. In addition to affecting the synovial joints and causing articular destruction and functional disability, an estimated 40% of those diagnosed with RA experience additional signs and symptoms that do not involve the joints; these affected areas often include most body systems and specifically the skin, eyes, lungs, nerves, heart, and blood vessels.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells could be effective for treating a number of autoimmune diseases, including RA. However, little is known about the effectiveness of umbilical cord (UC)-MSCs as they relate to the treatment of autoimmune diseases, specifically RA.
Considering this, it comes as little surprise to learn that bone marrow MSCs (BM-MSCs) have been the most common source of MSCs used in the study of immunosuppression of autoimmune conditions. However, the collection of BM-MSCs requires aspiration, which is an invasive procedure. Additionally, the number of BM-MSCs and the differentiating potential of BM-MSCs both decrease significantly with age.
UC-MSCs, on the other hand, are collected using non-invasive procedures after birth and before the umbilical cord is discarded. Additionally, UC-MSCs have been well documented to possess properties of self-renewal and multipotent differentiation, making them a potential candidate for alternative sources of stem cells.
In this study, Liu et al. examined the suppressive effects of UC-MCSs on the proliferation, invasive behavior, and inflammatory responses of fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) from patients with RA.
At the conclusion of this study, the authors offered a number of key findings about the effectiveness of UC-MSCs in this application, including:
US-MSCs inhibited proliferation of FLSs from RA patients
US-MSCs suppressed the invasive behavior and MMP expression of FLSs from RA patients
US-MSCs suppressed the inflammatory response of FLSs from RA patients
UC-MSCs induced hyporesponsiveness of T lymphocytes from RA patients
UC-MSCs induced Tregs from RA patients
UC-MSCs prevented tissue damage and reduced inflammatory responses in CIA
The authors conclude by indicating the evidence provided by this study indicates that UC-MSCS can exert a profound inhibitory effect on FLSs and T cells from RA patients and that they might be a therapeutic perspective in RA. Source: “Therapeutic potential of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21080925/.
Do you suffer from aches and pains due to rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? The stiffness caused by RA is a nuisance for many patients and it is especially prevalent in the morning. When you awake from even the most comfortable of sleep, your joints may feel painful and stiff for several hours. How can this be avoided?
4 Ways to Reduce Morning Stiffness for RA Patients
Most patients turn to over-the-counter pain medications to ease their RA morning stiffness, but there may be some other alternatives. The following are four ways to reduce rheumatoid arthritis stiffness and start your day off right.
1. Turn Up the Heat
Experts suggest turning your heat up about 30 minutes before you plan to start your day. This will allow time for your joints to warm up and feel less stiff while you take it easy and relax in bed or have your morning coffee. By the time you need to get ready and head out the door, your body will feel more relaxed, and stiffness may be decreased.
2. Take Medication as Soon as You Wake Up
While you’re turning up the heat, go ahead and take any of your rheumatoid arthritis medications. You want to give your medication time to kick in and take effect before you begin your morning routine. This will help ease most of the aches and pains that you may feel in your joints during morning activities.
3. Practice Gentle Movements
Once you are ready to get out of bed, practice gentle movements rather than jumping to your feet and rushing around the house. Simple range-of-motion exercises can help stretch your muscles and loosen joints in the hands, wrists, and feet.
4. Take A Hot Shower
While many people opt for nighttime showers, RA patients may benefit from taking a hot morning shower. Taking a warm shower upon waking in the morning will help loosen and relax the joints, decreasing any stiffness or aching.
If you suffer from chronic pain from your rheumatoid arthritis, you may want to explore how regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, may help manage symptoms. In addition, some patients are discovering help from peptides. These are chains of amino acids, and some may have the potential for those with chronic pain. Alternative medicine does not offer a cure, but for some, it may help improve quality of life.
There are a number of things that can cause arthritis, a painful condition that causes stiffness in joints. In Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the body’s immune system attacks the musculoskeletal system, causing inflammation that leads to arthritis pain. Over time, RA can cause a number of problems, including cartilage deterioration, swelling, and excess synovial fluid at the joint. In this article, we talk about how Stem Cell Therapy can help to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Using Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Because RA is a chronic condition, there is no cure. This means that treatment focuses on preventing attacks and easing symptoms. While there are medications that can help to tamp down the autoimmune response that causes RA pain, symptom management tends to rely on medication to relieve pain, which can be difficult to moderate.
Instead, some patients are seeking out stem cell therapy. Stem cells have the ability to differentiate into other cell types. By administering mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) systemically and directly to problematic joints, it may potentially help to regrow cartilage tissue and ease pain from rheumatoid arthritis.
How Stem Cell Therapy Can Benefit RA Patients
By taking a different approach to the treatment of RA, stem cell therapy offers potential relief that traditional treatments have not been able to provide to patients, including:
Because stem cells are able to differentiate into other cell types, they can be particularly useful for patients suffering from RA. When these stem cells are injected into a joint, they can help to rebuild the cartilage that cushions joints, counteracting the damage from RA.
Stem cells also have the potential to help regenerate other damaged tissues as well, including the synovium tissues, which help lubricate joints to keep them from becoming inflamed.
Regulating the Autoimmune Response
Stem cells have shown to be safe and promising in helping reduce the inflammatory response that results from the autoimmune attacks behind RA. Stem cell therapy has been used in the treatment of other autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis, and it shows promise for RA, as well. So yes, Stem Cell Therapy can help to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Reducing Further RA Damage
Stem cell therapy offers the possibility of reducing further RA attacks on joints that may not yet be affected by the disease. With the potential to limit the autoimmune responses that cause RA damage and to instead encourage healing and tissue growth, stem cells may be able to slow the impact of rheumatoid arthritis. This may allow patients to experience less pain and preserve their quality of life. If you would like to schedule an appointment to treat your RA, contact a care coordinator today!
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