“In 2003 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis – swollen joints and stiffness getting out of bed. After attending a rheumatologist for four years I felt very frustrated as nothing I was given seemed to work. I had got to the stage where I was self-injecting and that didn’t even work.
My husband read an article in the Sunday World Magazine about The Amber Centre in Mullingar and was so impressed by what he read that he asked me to read it and suggested that I quickly ring for an appointment.
That was then and this is now, I am a new person thanks to Alma Green and the staff of The Amber Centre. Alma told me I had a severe sinus infection, (I had forgotten to mention I suffered from sinusitis and hay fever for years) and had been on four (at least) antibiotics a year for same. This was the result of being allergic to dairy products. She also told me I had an allergy to lamb, which I absolutely loved. Now I just do not eat it.
Alma treated me for one year but I saw great results and didn’t have any problem travelling from Galway to Mullingar. My life changed thanks to The Amber Centre, Mullingar.”
Catherine – Co. Galway
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease causing inflammation and deformity of the joints. Other problems throughout the body (systemic problems) may also develop, including inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis ), the development of bumps (called rheumatoid nodules) in various parts of the body, lung disease, blood disorders, and weakening of the bones (osteoporosis ).
The skeletal system of the body is made up of different types of strong, fibrous tissue called connective tissue. Bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are all forms of connective tissue that have different compositions and different characteristics.
The joints are structures that hold two or more bones together. Some joints (synovial joints) allow for movement between the bones being joined (articulating bones). The simplest synovial joint involves two bones, separated by a slight gap called the joint cavity. A layer of cartilage covers the ends of each articular bone. A tough tissue called the articular capsule surrounds both articular bones and the joint cavity. The articular capsule has two components, the fibrous membrane on the outside and the synovial membrane (or synovium) on the inside. The fibrous membrane may include tough bands of tissue called ligaments, which are responsible for providing support to the joints. The synovial membrane has special cells and many tiny blood vessels (capillaries). This membrane produces a supply of synovial fluid that fills the joint cavity, lubricates it, and helps the articular bones move smoothly about the joint.
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the synovial membrane becomes severely inflamed. Usually thin and delicate, the synovium becomes thick and stiff, with numerous infoldings on its surface. The membrane is invaded by white blood cells, which produce a variety of destructive chemicals. The cartilage along the articular surfaces of the bones may be attacked and destroyed, and the bone, articular capsule, and ligaments may begin to wear away (erode). These processes severely interfere with movement in the joint.
RA exists all over the world and affects men and women of all races. In the United States alone, about two million people suffer from the disease. Women are three times more likely than men to have RA. About 80% of people with RA are diagnosed between the ages of 35-50. RA appears to run in families, although certain factors in the environment may also influence the development of the disease.
The underlying event that promotes RA in a person is unknown. Given the known genetic factors involved in RA, some researchers have suggested that an outside event occurs that triggers the disease cycle in a person with a particular genetic makeup.
Many researchers are examining the possibility that exposure to an organism (like a bacteria or virus) may be the first event in the development of RA. The body’s normal response to such an organism is to produce cells that can attack and kill the organism, protecting the body from the foreign invader. In an autoimmune disease like RA, this immune cycle spins out of control. The body produces misdirected immune cells, which accidentally identify parts of the person’s body as foreign. These immune cells then produce a variety of chemicals that injure and destroy parts of the body.
RA can begin very gradually, or it can strike quickly. The first symptoms are pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. The most commonly involved joints include hands, feet, wrists, elbows, and ankles, although other joints may also be involved. The joints are affected in a symmetrical fashion. This means that if the right wrist is involved, the left wrist is also involved. Patients frequently experience painful joint stiffness when they first get up in the morning, lasting for perhaps an hour. Over time, the joints become deformed. The joints may be difficult to straighten, and affected fingers and toes may be permanently bent (flexed). The hands and feet may curve outward in an abnormal way.
Many patients also notice increased fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and sometimes fever. Rheumatoid nodules are bumps that appear under the skin around the joints and on the top of the arms and legs. These nodules can also occur in the tissue covering the outside of the lungs and lining the chest cavity (pleura), and in the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Lung involvement may cause shortness of breath and is seen more in men. Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) may interfere with blood circulation. This can result in irritated pits (ulcers) in the skin, tissue death (gangrene ), and interference with nerve functioning that causes numbness and tingling.
Nutritionists suggest that a vegetarian diet low in animal products and sugar may help to decrease both inflammation and pain from RA. Beneficial foods for patients with RA include cold-water fish (mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines) and flavonoid-rich berries (cherries, blueberries, hawthorn berries, blackberries, etc.).
RA, considered an autoimmune disorder, is often connected with food allergies or intolerances, you can get checked for allergies at The Amber Centre, which tests for 950 different allergens. An elimination diet can help to decrease symptoms of RA as well as identify the foods that should be eliminated to prevent flare-ups and recurrences.