Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment Debate

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Diet as Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment DebateTo treat or not to treat RA: that is the question

We’ve talked a bit about Diet and RA recently on RA Warrior. There is even a new section of the blog dedicated to RA / food related topics called RA Kitchen after Food Network’s Hell’s Kitchen. Dietary adjustments can be important to those living with a chronic illness like RA. They are an important adjunct to medical treatment.

Recently, an advocate of changing diet in place of medical treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis left a lengthy comment, advancing her views. I wanted to respond to several points, but it was too long for me to reply as a comment. Here are excerpts from her comment with my responses.

  1.  “It didn’t seem it could get much worse”: It definitely can get much worse: From joint replacements surgeries to RA damaged vital organs to osteoporosis to heart disease to death. Rheumatoid Arthritis a dangerous disease; have you ever lost a loved one to RA?
  2. “I have been med free for over a year except for 15 days of prednisone which I just completed.” It sounds like you think some of us are not cautious enough about using medicine. But, I think I’m actually quite cautious. At times when I was bedridden due to RA, my prednisone remained in the medicine cabinet. I did not feel the risk was worth it in my situation since prednisone only treats the symptoms of RA. I have chosen to take medicines which fight the disease.
  3. “Stress, weather, and other factors still affect me but…” I realize that pain levels and perceptions are very personal, and RA symptoms can vary a great deal. But the important thing with Rheumatoid Arthritis is to consider the actual disease first. This is not just about painful symptoms. Barometric pressure may influence the symptoms you feel, but it does not cause the actual RA i.e.: bone erosions, joint destruction, and heart disease. Stress may make pain feel worse, but it is not the cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I just don’t want anyone reading this to wonder whether RA is their own fault.
  4.  “…how well my joints looked …” Looks can be deceptive. Joints can look normal on the outside, even with raging RA. Of course, the deformities usually manifest eventually. Rheumatoid Arthritis ought to be treated regardless of outward appearance. I am painfully aware that there are doctors who do not know this. I genuinely hope that your Rheumatoid Arthritis is not aggressive. I hope that inside of your joints, RA is not continuing to attack. But the periodic pain that you describe is not a good sign.
  5. “Old anger and resentment is too hard for our bodies to carry around” I was confused about this statement. Does it imply that RA has something to do with psychological problems? Emotional problems can have physical manifestations, but this has nothing to do with what causes the damage and disability of RA. I appreciate that you are “working through old issues,” as you say; stress can influence pain perceptions as previously discussed. However, this will not stop RA joint damage.

In the Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment hot seat

Writing today’s blog was uncomfortable for me. I want to fight RA and be a warrior against things that I believe stand in the way of understanding and curing RA. I do not want to fight other people living with RA. My quarrel is with ideas, not people. I do not go to other blogs and say what I’ve said here. I think of this as my front porch; and I speak from my heart.

A majority of RA’ers have periods of intermissions and flares. RA can be confusing and make one wonder what caused it to get better or worse. It is natural to look for ways to make symptoms improve. However, it’s important to remember that Rheumatoid Arthritis often continues to cause damage to joints and other body systems, even when the symptoms improve.

PostBlog: I do not oppose alternative medicine per se. I remember my own grandfather using acupuncture to help him with RA symptoms in his later years because he could not take any more cortisone, having exceeded the recommended lifetime allowance… However, he did die prematurely with the typical heart disease of RA. I feel certain that if the disease fighting medicines we use today had been available, he would have taken them in order to increase the possibility of living out his life and seeing his grandchildren grow up.

Recommended reading:

RA 101

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 14th, 2010 at 7:09 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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