Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Wrist Arthritis - What Could it Be?

Arthritis of the wrist may not sound like a big deal... until you need to open a door, type on your computer, or shake hands. Then you realize how much a role your wrist plays in these simple activities.

The wrist is like many other joints. It's enclosed in a synovial membrane. It consists of the ends of the radius and ulna- two long bones- that articulate with a row of eight carpal bones. The carpal bones in the wrist also articulate with the metacarpal bones of the hand. The entire wrist complex is stabilized by tendons and ligaments and encased in a synovial membrane.

When arthritis develops, the wrist complex is affected by inflammation of the synovial membrane as well as by any other problem that causes the cartilage that surrounds all the bones in the wrist to wear away.

While wrist pain may occur as the first sign of a problem, the inability to perform simple activities of daily living follows shortly.

The pain may be dull initially but then becomes sharper and more constant.

Grip strength diminishes. Inflammation progresses, then there may be pressure on the other structures that pass through the wrist such as the median nerve. This leads to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The treatment of wrist arthritis is dependent on the cause. Forms of arthritis that commonly affect the wrist include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and pseudogout. When inflammatory forms of arthritis affect the wrist, there is wearing away of cartilage as well as damage to the supporting structures. Wearing away of the cartilage leads to misalignment and deformity as well as wrist dysfunction. Swelling and fluid accumulation may occur.

When wrist arthritis occurs, there is a benefit in that wrist involvement by arthritis generally is often a tip off to diagnosis. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more common forms of arthritis that affect the wrist. By allowing an earlier diagnosis, early intervention can lead to remission.

Physical therapy and specific exercise may be beneficial as are splinting and anti-inflammatory medicines. Sometimes, injection with glucocorticoids may be necessary.

In advanced cases, surgery may be necessary. Surgical procedures include excision arthroplasty where the end of the ulna bone is removed. This often helps with some forms of arthritis since it allows more freedom of movement.

Joint fusion and joint replacement may be called for in extreme cases. Wrist replacement currently lasts about ten to fifteen years depending on the amount of activity.

Hand Arthritis - Symptoms and Treatment

Arthritis in the hand or wrists is common, but can be very debilitating. We use our hands for the vast majority of our daily living activities, from washing and dressing to more intricate tasks such as typing or threading a needle. When the joints in the hand and the digits are affected by arthritis, day to day living can be very difficult.

What causes hand arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is one of the main causes of hand arthritis. The hands and wrists are made up of many small bones and joints, which interact with each other to provide the range of motion needed. The joints are protected by a layer of cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber and provides a smooth surface for the bones of the joints to glide over easily. However, over time cartilage can become worn or damaged due to disease or injury. As we age, our cartilage is less able to repair itself, and eventually the smooth, pain free motion of the joint is lost. As the bones begin to rub against the rough surfaces of the worn cartilage and eventually against each other, they can lose their normal shape and become disfigured.

Synoval fluid is naturally produced by the body as lubrication for the joints, but when cartilage becomes damaged, the body will often produce more synoval fluid in an attempt to cushion the joint. However, this can cause swelling within the joint, and reduce motion.

An injury to the hand or wrist, such as a fracture or dislocation, can make the joints more susceptible to arthritis, especially if the surface or the joint has been damaged.

Hand arthritis can also occur as the result of disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which affects the whole body, so it is likely that other joints will also be affected, and other symptoms, such as fever, fatigue and general stiffness, may also be experienced.


The first symptoms of hand arthritis are general joint pain or a burning sensation in the affected area. This is likely to occur after repeated use, such as heavy lifting or prolonged typing. Stiffness of the affected area, particularly first thing in the morning, is also a common symptom.

These symptoms will increase in severity as the disease progresses. Sensations of pain may be present constantly, not just when the hands are in use. Swelling of the affected joints is likely to occur, which can make them appear larger, and the area may be red and appear warm to the touch. The motion and use of the joints is likely to be affected, and daily living tasks will become increasingly more difficult.

Crepitus may be experienced; crepitus is the grating or clicking sensation experienced by the damaged cartilage surfaces rubbing against each other. If the end finger joints are affected, small cysts can develop.

If rheumatoid arthritis is the cause, subcutaneous nodules can develop under the skin and can be accompanied by joint damage and deformity.

Arthritis caused by osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by X-ray or bone scans if the disease is in the early stages. Rheumatoid arthritis can generally be detected by blood tests.


There are a range of treatments available for hand arthritis, consisting of non surgical or surgical options.

Non surgical treatments work by relieving pain and inflammation, and preventing further deterioration of the joints. Anti-inflammatory medications are likely to be prescribed.

Cortisone Injections may also be used, which contain a long lasting anesthetic to reduce pain. Although these injections can provide pain relief for several weeks, their use should be limited as they can cause side effects such as infection and tendon and ligament weakness.

Some patients experience relief by using heat and ice packs on the affected areas, and gently exercising or massaging the joints and fingers can help to maintain joint mobility.

A splint can also be applied to affected joints to support the area during times of use. A splint should only be worn when stress is likely to be placed on the affected area or when pain is experienced, as prolonged use can cause muscle wasting.

If non surgical treatment does not relieve symptoms, or if the condition is advanced, then surgical treatment may be considered. There are several different options for surgery, including joint fusions, joint reconstruction or joint replacement. Your doctor should be able to advise on which option would be best for you based on the progression of the arthritis, your age and your lifestyle.

Although hand arthritis cannot be cured, the range of treatments now available can minimize your symptoms and help you to continue to live a full and active life.

Is it Possible to Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis?

One of the reasons why it is difficult to prevent rheumatoid arthritis is that the medical community does not know what causes it. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic degeneration of the cartilage in the joints. It is caused by an autoimmune response that turns the body's white blood cells against that cartilage. It is characterized by swollen, tender joints that are stiff and painful to move. This is more so after periods of inactivity such as first thing in the morning. There is no known cure for this disease and only limited treatments.

It is believed that rheumatoid arthritis is a genetic disorder. The only known risk factors are being female and being between 40 and 60 years old. This is the group most likely to develop symptoms of RA. It does also affect men, though only about 1/3 as many as women and it has been seen to develop at earlier ages. It is also sometimes seen in children. Smoking may have a casual link to the onset of symptoms, but this is not entirely certain. If it is linked to the disease somehow, this would be the only risk factor over which a person can have any control.

While we can not prevent rheumatoid arthritis, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent joint damage. All of the current treatments are symptomatic and include anti -inflammatory medications, pain relievers, and in some cases the use of corticosteroids. Unfortunately, there is a balancing act that must take place. The goal is to slow or halt the progress of the disease while providing as much relief from pain as possible. These two goals often run counter to one another. The medications that reduce swelling and pain have side effects that can lead to more damage to the joints. The medications to prevent damaging the joint further can aggravate the pain level.

Untreated, rheumatoid arthritis is a highly degenerative disease that can progress to a point that leaves a person bedridden in later life. In addition to the medical treatments listed above, occupational and physical therapy is prescribed to improve or maintain range of motion and flexibility. Therapy can consist of exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Other exercises will push the limits of mobility. The goal is to maintain the ability to function in daily life. This is literally a case of use it or lose it as allowing the joints to stiffen can lead to permanent and total disability.

Medical science is progressing rapidly with discoveries of new genetic markers for certain disorders and therapies designed to change certain genetic conditions. At the present time, there is no cure and no known method to prevent rheumatoid arthritis. The best one can hope for is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms early and seek medical help to limit or prevent a portion of the joint damage caused by RA. Physical or occupational therapy and a mix of anti-inflammatory and pain medications are the best means available to treat the symptoms at this time.

Curing Rheumatoid Arthritis - Simple Ways That Work

RA is one of the most common types of arthritis. Arthritis is inflammation of the joint characterized by joint pains and stiffness which get more severe as one gets older.

There are several ways in which to treat arthritis ranging from natural healing techniques to use of biological drugs. Both have shown relative success in treating the symptoms of arthritis.

Nonetheless, it is important for one to understand the habits that influence inflammatory processes that result in arthritis.

It is one of the autoimmune diseases that can occur at any age and is very challenging for the human body system to naturally handle.

The symptoms can sometimes be very debilitating and it important to talk to a qualified medical professional before starting a new treatment plan.

Natural Cures for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs primarily as a result of antibodies within the body attacking the body itself. It is not a simple disease and even when you choose to work with the natural methods it is still important to consult with a specialist on what you need to do.

Combination of hot and cold presses to reduce pain in muscle joint is one of the natural methods that can be used to cure rheumatoid arthritis. Most people with arthritis suffer swallow and pain in muscle joints.

To reduce the pain one can use a combination of cold and hot compresses for about 15 minutes each. Use ice cold water for 15 minutes then hot water for another 15 minutes and the pain will be reduced.

Acupuncture, Exercise and Diet plan

Acupuncture is a great natural choice in curing rheumatoid arthritis. This traditional Chinese method helps in boosting the immune system; with an excellent immune system the body gets the power to fight off the disease.

Doing proper exercises and having a good diet can also help reduce pain associated with RA. It is recommended that you consult your physician on what kind exercises and diet plan can help in improving the condition.

Drugs Used to Cure Rheumatoid Arthritis

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also known as NSAIDs are used in arthritis treatment strictly for pain relief and to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids are also used to manage short term flare ups in reducing pain and inflammation.

They also help prevent joint damage. It is a rapid relief drug which is usually given to NSAID patients when NSAID is ineffective.

It is also one of the most effective treatments that were originally designed for illnesses such as cancer, though used in much less amounts to cure arthritis.

Biologics are the emerging new rheumatoid treatment. They are used when all medication cannot deliver relief. It is developed from human gene protein and works by inhibiting immune response to inflammation.

Focus on Body Immunity

In curing rheumatoid arthritis, there is one most important thing to focus on; building body immunity.

If the body immunity is weak then it becomes almost impossible to cure rheumatoid arthritis. It is advisable to build body immunity even as you try other treatments.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment - Non-Dairy Sources of Probiotics Supplements

Rheumatoid Arthritis is not inevitable, no matter the particulars of your family history or genetics. Some people have genetics that make them more susceptible, but something must still trigger the disease process. Likewise, it is usually possible, even after the rheumatoid arthritis has been triggered, to "untrigger" it by reversing its underlying causes.

One underlying causes of rheumatoid arthritis is a disruption of healthy gut bacteria. This can happen because of any number of stressors: taking antibiotics, losing a job, losing a loved one, having a loved one seriously ill or injured, divorce, your home going into foreclosure, surgery, taking a board exam, traveling in a third world country, getting some other illness, working long hours without enough rest and more. Even joyful events like the birth or a child, a job promotion or, moving to a new house can cause stress that can trigger RA.

This is because for most people stress has a strong impact on the gut. Once gut flora gets out of balance it can stay that way for years and years, until something helps it to rebalance itself.

This rebalancing of gut flora is one way to help "untrigger" rheumatoid arthritis.

One way to do this is by reintroducing healthy bacteria everyday through your diet.

Most people know about the benefits of eating live culture yogurt because of the healthy bacteria it contains. Most people don't realize the almost infinite number of other sources of probiotics. Many can be made in your own kitchen without much effort and easily incorporated into your everyday diet.

If you can eat dairy, it is easy to get probiotics through yogurt, kefir, and the many commercial probiotics supplements grown on a dairy base.

If you can't eat dairy, you may not realize how easy it is to still get enough probiotics.

Here is partial list of the many non-dairy probiotics-containing foods you can eat and drink:

  1. Commercially available cultured coconut milk

  2. Homemade cultured coconut milk, soymilk, rice milk or fruit juice made using kefir grains

  3. Unpasteurized sauerkraut

  4. Unpasteurized kim chee

  5. Sour pickles

  6. Other vegetable ferments, such as sour beets, sour turnips, fermented radishes, etc.

  7. "Potato cheese" - cooked potato fermented with brine from live sauerkraut culture

  8. Brine from ferments used as a digestive tonic and Soup Stock

  9. Fermented chutney

  10. Miso

  11. Miso Pickles

  12. Tempeh-soy

  13. Ferments made from other beans such as pinto beans, kidney beans, navy beans, etc.

  14. Rejuvenac-made from sprouted grain

  15. Kombucha-a tea fermented with a special kombucha culture

  16. Porridge-fermented overnight before cooking to increase digestibility

These probiotics-containing foods start with either an already established culture which you can buy or someone can gift you (yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh and other bean ferments and kombutcha) or capture wild bacteria from the air (sauerkraut, kim chee, sour pickles, other vegetable ferments, brines, rejuvenac and porridge.)

Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

About 2 million people wake up in the morning with red, swollen, stiff joints. The pain persists on into the day making it hard if not impossible to take care of the activities of daily living, or hobbies that make your life rich; washing the dishes, making bread, sewing, gardening, playing with the children or grandchildren; are no longer enjoyable, your mood suffers and desperation sets in as you try to find something; a magic pill, a diet, anything that will take this pain away. This is the life of a person suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA.

RA is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, if which the cause is unknown. What is known about the disease is that it affects women more than men and Caucasian's more than any other race. Rheumatoid Arthritis can strike at any age but is most commonly diagnosed from the ages of 20 to 40.

The onset of RA is usually marked with fatigue, weakness and sometimes fever. Some report a loss of appetite and, subsequently, weight. The hallmark of RA is joint stiffness in the morning that gradually improves throughout the day and that is symmetrical, in that it affects both sides of the body. For example both of your hands will be stiff, red and swollen, not just one hand or one joint as is typical in osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is so painful that many people seek unproven and sometimes unsafe methods of dealing with the pain. There is no cure for RA. So many sufferers will risk addiction to opioid analgesics, or risk damage to other systems just to gain some relief from the pain. While the outlook is bleak for these individuals, there are some lifestyles and diet modifications that can reduce, if not temporarily eliminate, the pain of RA.

Some physicians suggest a monitored fast. This should be done under the supervision of a physician and should be done at a reputable facility. The reasoning behind the fast is to cleanse the body. Think of it as starting from scratch. The next step is to gradually add foods back, but the diet will be different from before. For instance; the sufferer should follow a low animal protein, high carbohydrate diet - in addition to leaving out milk and milk products and products made with polyunsaturated and partially hydrogenated oils and fats. The diet should be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in fish and walnuts. In addition to omega-3, the diet should consist of fresh vegetables; especially green leafy vegetables that contain vitamin K. Also include asparagus, eggs, garlic and onions, which contain sulfur that is needed for the rebuilding and repair of bone and cartilage. Although acidic fruits are not recommended fresh pineapple which contains an enzyme known to reduce inflammation may be consumed, along with whole grains. Iron supplements or multi vitamins containing iron should be avoided. Substitute foods rich in iron instead; like blackstrap molasses, or broccoli.

Supplements associated with easing the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis are very popular, but should be taken with caution and under the supervision of your physician or homoeopathist. One of the most common supplements for overall joint health is chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine; these work together to form and strengthen joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is usually combined with the aforementioned, due to its anti-inflammatory and joint repair properties. Some other supplements to include in the list are bromelain, found in fresh pineapple; sea cucumber, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium plus copper, vitamin D3 and zinc.

Herbs associated with joint and bone health are; alfalfa, kelp, boswellia, cat's claw, feverfew, cayenne, nettle leaf, turmeric willow bark and yucca. These can be used in combination, as poultices and rubs. A very effective combination is a mixture of wintergreen oil and capsaicin the mixture might sting at first, but most people report a lessening of pain and more flexibility.

There is no need to suffer from the pain of RA. All that is needed is knowledge and a willingness to modify the lifestyle to include healthy, natural foods that aid the body in defending itself against inflammation and pain. There may not be a "cure" for RA, but management of the symptoms can increase the quality of life.

Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Increase the Risk of Cancer?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common inflammatory form of arthritis, affecting more than 2 million Americans. It is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease which has no known cure, but which is capable of being put into remission.

A major evolution in therapy has occurred in the last fifteen years with the advent of what are known as biologic therapies.

These treatments are designed to act as laser-guided bullets, using proteins to knock out or intercept the abnormal messengers produced by inflammatory cells that cause rheumatoid arthritis to exist.

The obvious question raised by both patients as well as rheumatologists is this: What are the risks associated with "toying" with the immune system?

The answers appear to be the following: there is an increased risk of opportunistic infection, indicating the need to warn patients about exposure to different bacteria and fungi. Tuberculosis is a particularly dangerous "bug" to keep patients away from. Regular testing for tuberculosis is recommended.

Immunologic side effects such as neurologic disorders are also a potential threat. A multiple-sclerosis-like disorder has been seen in some patients.

Nonetheless, biologics, so far, seem to have an acceptable risk benefit ratio.

One question that has been posed by many is... "What about an increased risk for cancer?"

A recent study sheds some sobering light on this... but not in the way one might think. The conclusions reached by a study looking at data from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register showed a 50 per cent increase in the risk of getting cancer in RA patients not treated with biologic therapy!

There has been a well-established link between RA and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. However, the Registry data indicates the risk for RA and contracting cancer is increased about 50 per cent. The population assessed was patients with the disease who were being treated with methotrexate alone. The study included 3,727 patients enrolled in the registry between 2002 and 2008.

Among the 148 malignancies, there were melanoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer. In addition, there were 20 patients who developed either non-Hodgkins lymphoma or Hodgkin's disease.

Another smaller British study looked at the risk of cancer in patients treated with anti-TNF therapies. What they found were numbers similar to patients not treated with biologics. There was an increased risk of lymphoma and an increased risk of skin cancers in general. What was different was that in this group, there was also an increased risk of malignant melanoma. This latter was the major differentiating feature between the two groups.

So bottom line: It appears that anti-TNF therapy for rheumatoid arthritis carries the same risk for cancer as does the underlying disease. One exception is the increased risk of malignant melanoma.