Diseases & Conditions
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term chronic disease that causes inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can also affect other organs.
RA destroys the protective tissue (cartilage) surrounding the joints. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide smoothly over one another and absorbs the shock of physical movement. With RA, the cartilage breaks down and wears away. As a result, the bones rub together. Patients with this disease have joint swelling, pain, and stiffness.
RA usually affects joints on both sides of the body equally. Wrists, fingers, knees, feet, and ankles are the most commonly affected.
Signs and Symptoms
RA usually develops slowly over time, with the following symptoms:
- Morning stiffness – waking up with stiff joints (often the wrists and base of the fingers; ankles, balls of the feet, elbows, or knees)
- Joint pain with warmth, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness of the joint after inactivity
- Limited range of motion in the affected joints
- Low grade fever (when joints are acutely inflamed)
- Small, round, firm bumps (called nodules) under the skin; you can feel these, but they are generally painless
RA usually requires lifelong treatment, including various medications, physical therapy, education, and possibly surgery. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms and preserving joint function.
RA is associated with many complications.
- Joint deformities
- Cervical spine problems (can be life-threatening)
- Painless, hard, round or oval masses called nodules that appear under the skin
- Pleuritis (inflammation of the lungs)
- Rheumatoid vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
- Pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart)
- Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
- Congestive heart failure
- Eye inflammation
Dr. Tatyana Yakovleva developed a unique treatment protocol for patients with RA which:
- Improves range of joint motion
- Increases muscle strength
- Eliminates muscle spasm
- Enhances functional mobility
- Eases pain
Her treatment methods include:
1.Acupuncture and acupressure: Acupuncture can be used as a supportive treatment with conventional medical therapy. Spinal and joint acupressure decreases pain and enhances joint mobility when used in between flare-ups for patients with RA.
2.Exercise (Sitting Yoga): It is important to maintain a balance between rest (which reduces inflammation) and exercise (which relieves stiffness and weakness). The exercises of Sitting Yoga are recommended in order to:
- Enhance flexibility
- Diminish feelings of stress/tension
- Increase satisfaction with general health
- Facilitate management of arthritis symptoms
- Decrease fatigue
While traditional guidelines have restricted RA patients to only gentle exercise, research suggests that stretching exercises may not only be safe, but may actually produce greater muscle strength and overall functioning. In one small study, men and women with RA had improved grip strength in their hands after practicing yoga for only 15 days. Women in this study showed greater improvements than men.
Signs from your body are the best guides for how long or hard you should exercise.
- If you feel sharp pains while exercising, stop immediately.
- If lesser aches and pains continue for more than 2 hours afterwards, then try a lighter exercise program for a while.
- Using large joints instead of small ones for ordinary tasks can help relieve pressure. For example, use your hip to close doors or the palm of your hand to push buttons.
3.Micro-Current therapy: Studies suggest that as little as 3 hours of Micro-Cuprrent therapy over 6 weeks improves the symptoms of patients with RA.
4.Mind/Body Medicine: A holistic approach to your care may positively affect both your lifestyle and how you feel overall. Many patients report that relaxation techniques, such as chakra balancing and meditation are an important part of general care and help alleviate pain and other symptoms of RA.