September 9th, 1965, history was made. The Los Angeles Dodgers were playing the Chicago Cubs at home in Dodger Stadium. The youngest pitcher ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame took the mound. Sandy Kaufax, arguably the best pitcher to have ever played the game, took the mound. He pitched a perfect game, a game in which all 27 batters on the opposing team are struck out without reaching a base. 27 up, and 27 down. He became the 8th player (the first left-handed) in the history of the game to accomplish this feat. In over a hundred years of professional baseball, only 20 perfect games have ever been thrown.



But being left-handed wasn’t the only unique element of his perfect game. He pitched it despite severe rheumatoid arthritis in his left elbow in his pitching arm. His arthritis was so severe that he retired the next year, at age 30, in order to not inflict permanent disability on his arm. He was on a number of medications and an intense anti-inflammatory routine in order to keep his arm from destroying itself. The fact that he pitched a perfect game through what must have been horrendous pain is a testament to the strength of that young man’s determination to carry his team to greatness.



Unfortunately, most people afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis rarely achieve the same level of prestige and accomplishment that Sandy Kaufax did. In fact, many people who are in the early stages of the condition may not know they have it. Many, also, go undiagnosed or improperly diagnosed as it can often mimic other conditions.



Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that affects roughly 1.5 million people in the US and approximately 1% of the global population. The highest incidence of rheumatoid arthritis occurs in women ages 44-65 though it can occur at almost any age and in both genders. While it may seem unusual that for almost no apparent reason, there are three times as many women affected than men, it is important to realize that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition and women have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases in general compared to men.



Some people tend to confuse the different forms of arthritis. When people think of arthritis, they tend to visualize joint damage due to wear and tear and consider it simply an affliction of age. This form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis and is a purely mechanical condition where the cartilage at the ends of the bones have worn away over time from abuse and now grind against each other in a painful and mechanically restrictive way.



Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is when the joints become stiff and restricted, and can eventually become deformed and unusable. These are caused by inflammation in the joints due to an irrational immune system response. When most people think of joints, they think of a ball and socket, two bones with cartilage on the ends that rub together and eventually give out. Thankfully, our bodies are much smarter than that and have designed a lubrication system that, when functioning properly, prevents the two ends of the bones from ever fully contacting each other, which dramatically increases the lifespan of the bones. This lubrication system is called synovial fluid. Similar to the way machines need oil and lubricant, so do your skeletal joints. Each joint is surrounded by a hermetically sealed membrane called the synovial membrane which traps the synovial fluid in the joint. When you “crack” your knuckles, the sound is caused by the shifting of synovial fluid and not the joints snapping.



In people with rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial membrane is attacked by the immune system and becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes a number of symptoms, including: 



- Tender, warm, swollen joints

 

- Morning stiffness that may last for hours (osteoarthritis stiffness, typically lasts less than an hour)

 

- Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on your arms (rheumatoid nodules)

 

- Fatigue, fever and weight loss



Early rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect your smaller joints first, particularly the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to the knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders. In most cases, symptoms occur in the same joints on both sides of your body.



If the condition persists for a long time, eventually the joints cause deformities to the hands and/or feet such as “Z thumb” where the bones of the thumb form a “Z” when X-rayed.



While the causes of rheumatoid arthritis, and all autoimmune diseases, is a disputed subject the factors are typically considered to be some combination of genetics, environment, and, to a greater or lesser extent, diet.



To those with a firm understanding of autoimmune conditions often recognize the very strong correlation with chronic inflammation and the development of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. There can be many potential sources of inflammation in the synovial fluid, which may eventually manifest into rheumatoid arthritis. Food allergies, heavy metals, bacterial infections, chemical toxins, etc. can cause inflammatory responses in the joints, as well as other parts of the body including organs. It must be said, however, that there are many in the mainstream medical community who would disagree and say that there is no confirmed dietary or environmental cause of rheumatoid arthritis.



While it may very well be true that the ultimate cause of rheumatoid arthritis, and in fact any autoimmune disease, will not be known for decades to come, there is enough empirical evidence to suggest that diet, environment, and lifestyle have a strong impact on the disease and that if these areas cause or exacerbate the disease, their modification can lead to prevention and/or remission.



Truly, the first hurdle that must be conquered is detecting and diagnosing the condition early on, before permanent irreversible damage or deformity occurs to the joint. While X-rays are the most common tool used to assess current bone health, they are not of sufficient power to detect some of the more subtle damage and degeneration that rheumatoid arthritis can cause. In fact, it is not uncommon for people with rheumatoid arthritis to be misdiagnosed as osteoarthritis. This distinction is critical because these conditions require markedly different treatments and if the wrong diagnosis is made time and effort will be wasted and there is greater risk of further degeneration.



Ultrasound technologies have become significantly superior to X-ray in detecting the initial bone damage caused by synovial inflammation. Because inflammation of the synovial membrane is the distinguishing feature of rheumatoid arthritis, being able to observe it is critical for accurate diagnosis.



While there are blood tests available to test for rheumatoid arthritis, the results are not always cut and dry. The most accurate tests available detect certain antibodies that are present in the body when rheumatoid arthritis is present. However, the most sensitive test is a combination test that looks for a number of antibodies, namely Rheumatoid Factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACAPs), this test, if positive means that there is a 72% chance that the patient has rheumatoid arthritis, but if the test is negative, it means that there is a 99.7% chance that the patient doesn’t have it. Being positive for those antibodies means that you could have one of several different autoimmune conditions, and one of them may be rheumatoid arthritis.



Rheumatoid Factor (RF) comes in several forms, among the most important to monitor in RA patients are RF IgA, RF IgM, and RF IgG. Measuring their quantities in blood serum is an excellent indicator of treatment progress and effectiveness because they strongly correlate to the severity of the RA condition.



Once a confirmed diagnosis has been made, the typical pharmaceutical approaches involve two different classes of medications: Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), though it is not uncommon to use certain steroids like cortisone. While these medications can reduce symptoms and are effective for some people, they are categorized as toxic substances and have varying degrees of side effects. The most common treatments involve a combination of various DMARDs, for example Methotrexate with Sulphasalazine. Methotrexate, considered to be the most effective medication for rheumatoid arthritis also happens to be one of the most common medications used for medically induced abortions and as a remedy for ectopic pregnancies. Sulphasalazine, though less toxic than methotrexate and has been in use for many years, has documented incidences of rare but serious side effects that include aplastic anemia and neutropenia which is the destruction of certain white blood cells, both of which can cause death.



While death may be an extremely rare side effect, because of the aggressive and toxic nature of these conventional therapies, many people are searching for more natural and gentler alternatives. For the past 10 years, we at the Wellness Center have been using a dynamic program for rheumatoid arthritis (as well as other autoimmune conditions) that has an incredible track record of success.



It’s a multi-stage process that utilizes very advanced testing. Blood testing, hormone testing, as well as genetic testing to allow us to determine what your specific inflammatory triggers are. Each person’s triggers are unique and very specific. This in-depth testing is critical in order to determine if the inflammation in the synovial membrane is being caused or exacerbated by, hormonal imbalances, toxins, food or environmental allergens and so on.



Once the triggers have been identified, a very specific individualized program is developed that addresses the exact triggers outlined by the testing. Some of the more common elements of such a program may include:



Anti-inflammatory diet

 

Allergy elimination diet

 

Detoxification

 

Essential fatty acids

 

Gastro-intestinal balancing



Not every element above is appropriate for each person. Because of each person’s unique genetics and lifestyle, each program is equally unique in order to address each person’s exact needs.



Our method is very successful simply because it utilizes information that the conventional therapies ignore, individuality. The efficacy of our program is evidenced by our track record, which speaks for itself.



Rheumatoid arthritis does not have to be a downward spiral towards misery and disability. Early on, you should treat it as a red flag that there is something you are doing, eating, or being exposed to that is making your body extremely unhappy. If you can find and identify those dietary, lifestyle, or environmental factors, you can regain control of your body and take back your life.