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Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious autoimmune disease that causes pain, inflammation and deformity of the joints. Eventually, this inflammation may lead to degeneration of the cartilage causing bone to be worn away. The exact causes for RA aren’t fully understood, but there do seem to be a number of factors involved.
While genetics certainly seems to play a key role, it is the combination of stress, environmental and lifestyle factors that determine the likelihood of developing the disease. These factors include infectious agents such as bacteria or viruses, hormones, obesity, physical or emotional trauma, cigarette smoke and air pollution.
Conventional treatment typically involves a variety of drugs that potentially have serious side effects, including NSAIDs, steroids, and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These are often prescribed, starting with those drugs that have the fewest side effects, but the use of stronger drugs or combinations of drugs is common as the disease progresses. Certain nutrient compounds and herbal medicines have also been demonstrated to benefit RA patients through a variety of immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive effects.
In this infographic we focus on some of the triggers of this disease and explore underlying immunological processes. We also look at some of the encouraging alternative options for treatment that may significantly improve the long-term outcome for patients, with little or no side-effects.
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