Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) now affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans today, a majority of them women. Contrary to what some people believe, RA is very different from osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually a chronic autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your joints, leading to deformities, pain, and a substantial loss of mobility.
Due to the excruciating pain brought about by this disease, a lot of people are using prescription medications and painkillers. However, beware: most rheumatoid arthritis drugs may severely damage your health.
Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated whether taking four drugs for rheumatoid arthritis may increase the risk of cancer in children and young adults. These drugs are:
1. Enbrel (by Amgen and Wyeth)
2. Remicade (by Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough)
3. Humira (by Abbott Laboratories)
4. Cimzia (by the Belgian company UCB)
These medications work by blocking a protein known as tumor necrosis factor, also called TNF-blockers. These drugs are used not only for rheumatoid arthritis patients, but also for people with psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and other immune diseases.
These drugs work by blocking a part of the immune system, and may put you at a higher risk of cancers and infections. They even have warnings on their labels, such as for risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system cells.
Not only are these drugs dangerous – they’re expensive as well. For example, the cost of using Remicade for just one year can reach about 12,000 dollars. It’s no wonder the total sales of Remicade, Humira and Enbrel reached over 13 billion dollars worldwide in 2007 alone!
The good news is that taking drugs is not the only rheumatoid arthritis treatment you can try. In fact, some simple lifestyle modifications can help alleviate RA pain and even reverse this debilitating condition. Here are some effective strategies that work wonders for RA:
1. Improve your diet by eating only whole, organic foods. Avoid processed foods, as well as sugar and grains, which lead to inflammation.
2. Get plenty of omega-3 fats by taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 supplement, like krill oil.
3. Have your vitamin D levels checked. Many RA patients actually have low vitamin D levels. The best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is through adequate sun exposure.
4. Address your emotional traumas, which are often an underlying factor of rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Exercise regularly. You should do simple and gentle exercises, though, as to not worsen your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Don’t be so quick to take prescription drugs for rheumatoid arthritis, because they may only worsen your condition. Remember these simple strategies, and you’ll soon be pain-free.