Aggravating medicines and risk factors
Although the precise cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is not yet known, it causes immune cells, known as lymphocytes, to become activated and the resultant chemicals create inflammation in the joints and, sometimes, other body organs.
In addition to genetic disposition, environmental factors appear to play a key part in triggering RA, particularly:
⇒ Smoking tobacco
⇒ Chronic gum disease – it was previously believed that the gum disease was a symptom of the emerging Rheumatoid Arthritis, but it has now been shown that there is a more complex relationship between the two conditions and those with the fewest teeth left have the worst prognosis for RA.
⇒ High exposure to silica mineral – this can be taken as a supplement to strengthen nails and hair and is one of the most common minerals on earth, however the level of exposure necessary for development of RA is usually acquired through rock drilling work or stone crushing.
Non-environmental risk factors include:
⇒ Being female – one per cent of the population will contract RA, but three times the number of women to men develop the disease.
⇒ Being between 40 and 60 years of age. Although Rheumatoid Arthritis can occur at any age, only a quarter of sufferers develop symptoms before the age of 30.
⇒ Family history of RA. There is a proven genetic link with this condition.
Medicines that should be used with care include:
⇒ Thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii) – although this herb has been used for centuries to modify the adverse effects of RA, it can also have serious side effects. As well as causing stomach upsets and skin reactions, it can cause temporary infertility in men and cessation of menstruation in women. It should not be used if you are taking immunosuppressive drugs. The leaves and flowers of this plant are poisonous and can cause death so preparations should only be made from the root. Your doctor should always be advised of all the substances you are using.
⇒ Ginger and green tea – if you are already taking anti-coagulants use these plants with care as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
The Arthritis Foundation issues a warning that the following things can make your pain feel worse.
⇒ Too much physical activity
⇒ Fatigue – this can be made worse by too little activity leading to pain and stiffness. Gentle water exercise is advised even during flare ups.
⇒ Concentrating too much on the pain
⇒ Worsening of the disease.