Rheumatoid Arthritis

What Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?

To successfully treat and prevent recurrence of rheumatoid arthritis we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow rheumatoid arthritis symptoms to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind rheumatoid arthritis consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Atrophic Gastritis
  • Gluten Sensitivity
  • Lyme Disease*
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Immune System Imbalance
  • EFA 3 Need
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bacterial Dysbiosis
* symptoms can be very similar

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
moderate unexplained weight loss
abdominal pain reduced by eating
frequent 'chills'
coffee consumption
diarrhea for 1-3 months
constant fatigue
moderate meal-induced pain
frequent unexplained fevers
regular postprandial somnolence
frequent mucus in stools
meal-related pain for over a month
diffuse bone pain
... and more than 90 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms:
Cause Probability Status
Ulcerative Colitis 96% Confirm
EFA 3 Need 24% Unlikely
Gluten Sensitivity 18% Unlikely
Immune System Imbalance 0% Ruled out
Bacterial Dysbiosis 0% Ruled out
Lyme Disease** 0% Ruled out
Atrophic Gastritis 0% Ruled out
Osteoporosis 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process
** Symptoms can be very similar

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate joint problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Minor episode(s) now in remission / controlled
→ Major episode(s) now in remission / controlled
→ Yes, but I can function normally
→ Current serious problem / I am disabled by it
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate history of rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or severe rheumatoid arthritis, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Lyme Disease

Lyme disease was "discovered" in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975 because of the perseverance of Polly Murray, a homemaker who thought that too much Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) was being diagnosed in her community.  Putting aside the issue of whether Lyme disease does or does not cause some cases of JRA, the two diseases share so many symptoms that Lyme disease is often mistaken for JRA.

Atrophic Gastritis

Chronic atrophic gastritis occurs in up to 63% of rheumatoid arthritis patients.  Achlorhydria also occurs frequently and is associated with changes in gastric microbial patterns.

Bacterial Dysbiosis

Immunologic responses to gut flora have been advanced by several authors as being important causative factors of inflammatory joint diseases.  It is well-known that reactive arthritis can be activated by intestinal infections with Yersinia, Salmonella and other enterobacteria.  In some cases bacterial antigens have been found in synovial cells and may enter the circulation because of the increased intestinal permeability associated with the intestinal infection.  Increased intestinal permeability and immune responses to bacterial debris may cause other types of inflammatory joint disease as well.

EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Type 3 Requirement

Aching, swollen joints may just be demanding the right kind of oil.  Shifting the body's balance toward omega-3 oils and away from omega-6 oils significantly alleviates symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a recent study in the Journal of Rheumatology.

Gluten Sensitivity / Celiac Disease

People with Rheumatoid Arthritis have a higher risk of also being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Immune System Imbalance (TH2 Dominance)

A Mayo Clinic study found that the T-cells were 'worn out' in rheumatoid arthritis patients, who do not make new T-cells as readily as they should.

Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

According to researchers, women with rheumatoid arthritis have up to double the risk of developing osteoporosis and those who use steroid drugs to help control the arthritis are at an even higher risk of bone loss.  [Arthritis and Rheumatism, March 2000]

Weakened Immune System

People with rheumatoid arthritis, who for a long time were thought to have overactive immune systems, instead may have exhausted immune systems.  A study at the Mayo Clinic has shown for the first time that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have prematurely aged immune systems.  Patients 20 to 30 years old had a collection of T-cells that looked like they belonged to 50 to 60 year olds.

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