If I hit my thumb with a hammer, it would hurt and it would become inflamed, but after a couple of days or so the pain and swelling would disappear. Great, this is my body doing its job and repairing the damage, it does this amazingly well.
If I repeatedly hit my thumb with a hammer, say three times a week, then the pain would increase, the inflammation would increase and the damage would increase. If I took pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, maybe I could stand the pain and maybe the inflammation could be controlled, but the damage would still be done and pretty soon my thumb would be permanently destroyed beyond repair.
I like my thumb very much (in fact I like both of them!), so in order to keep it in perfect health, which of the following methods would I choose?
- Take lots of pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs and try to take my mind off it.
- Stop hitting my thumb with a hammer.
I would choose option 2. It’s obvious and it’s common sense and this has been my approach to tackling my rheumatoid arthritis. I’m an engineer and my entire life’s experience tells me that there is always a cause and effect, so I decided to look for the cause of my arthritis instead of just dealing with its effects.
Treat the Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis Not Just the Symptoms
It amazes, saddens and depresses me that almost all of the research I have read concerning therapies for rheumatoid arthritis deals almost exclusively with treating the symptoms and not the cause. Please don’t misunderstand me here, treating the pain and inflammation is important in order to function and get through each day with RA. However, every encounter I’ve had with a medical professional has produced the same basic response; treat the pain and inflammation, control the damage, and monitor the side effects.
However, there is rarely a hint of a cure, a reason for optimism, a sign of hope; it’s as if they have forgotten about the ‘hammer’, ‘the elephant in the room’… With all due respect, that was, and is not, good enough for me. I wanted to find the cause and remove it. As far as I’m aware none of the (many) medical professionals that I have consulted over several decades, has ever experienced the effects of rheumatoid arthritis for themselves.
“It’s a problem with the body’s immune system, it mistakenly attacks the joints.” Hmm… I was walking along one day, perfectly healthy, minding my own business, been that way for twenty five years or so, then suddenly I have rheumatoid arthritis? Suddenly it leapt out from behind a bush, re-programmed my immune system then said “Ha! Got you!”… I’m afraid I can’t accept this.
My arthritis didn’t just sneak up on me; something caused it. Something triggered it. Yes, I am sure there are contributory factors for many people such as a genetic disposition to having a weaker immune system, perhaps heavy smoking or excessive alcohol for example, but despite these factors and whether a person is more or less susceptible; I believe there is still a catalytic cause. This cause may be developing over time or it may occur suddenly; I would like to talk more about this in another post later.
If it’s a problem with my immune system, then why does my immune system become operational again once I stop eating? If it was my immune system, it would continue to be faulty, it wouldn’t say “Eyup lads we can take a break from dismantling this knee, he’s stopped eating.”
I believe the illness caused by rheumatoid arthritis is more like an allergy or the effects of a poison. For example, if a person is allergic to peanuts a doctor will recommend ‘not eating peanuts’, the doctor will not say “Continue eating peanuts and take these drugs to counteract the effects.” In this case the cause is well known, so the solution is to remove the cause; the peanuts… ‘the hammer’.
In my own experience, rheumatoid arthritis behaves the same way. When I eat certain foods my body reacts badly, obviously I’ve upset it and it’s trying to repair the damage or imbalance that I’ve caused by introducing some sort of poisonous or disagreeable foods into my body. The task for me was to discover which ones, and whether any other materials might be contributing to the problem such as toothpaste, tap water or vitamin supplements etc.