There are many forms of rheumatism. Many people mistakenly believe that rheumatism and rheumatic illnesses are confined to the elderly. Whilst it is true that these conditions occur mainly in people over the age of 40, children, adolescents, and young adults can also be affected.
There are many different forms of rheumatism with numerous causes, of which little is known to date. Possible causes are:
- Constant stress on joints at work or during sport
- Wear and tear in the joints due to overweight
- Normal wear and tear due to aging
- Inflammations triggered by metabolic and immune disorders
- Hereditary handicap
- Badly healed bone fractures
- Ligament and tendon injuries
- Congenital malformation of a joint
- Viral infections
- Specific intestinal bacteria
Most rheumatic illnesses are chronic, causing inflammation, and eventually corrosion of the joint. Affected joints are painful, become increasingly stiff, and over time prove difficult to move. Muscles, tendons, and even skin and internal organs can all be affected by rheumatism.
Muscle, joint, or back pain can be temporary but can also be the first sign of rheumatic symptoms. Rheumatic pain can be extremely painful and limit one’s quality of life. The process of permanently relieving the pain and tackling the causes is very complex and lengthy.
A healthy, therapeutic approach, tailored to the patient, is therefore important.
The most common rheumatic illnesses are:
- Degenerative joint diseases/arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Metabolic diseases with rheumatic symptoms (gout)
- Soft tissue rheumatism (fibromyalgia)
Medical and self-help treatment for rheumatism
There are several treatments available aimed at improving the quality of life of people with rheumatism. Diagnosis as early as possible as well as an effective treatment geared to the needs of the patient is crucial. The priority in the treatment of rheumatism is to put a stop to both pain and inflammation.
Normally cortisone would be used to inhibit the inflammation process in severe cases and gels such as Diclofenac or Ibuprofen applied. But more and more frequently now doctors are also using herbal remedies to alleviate pain in an attempt to reduce the amount of synthetic medication taken. It has been scientifically proven that the herb Arnica montana has the same action as cortisone in stemming the inflammation process and easing pain.
When inflammation is present, a large number of free radicals are formed. Antioxidants are needed to absorb these. To make sure you are getting your daily dose of antioxidants (i.e. vitamin C, selenium, zinc), eat five portions of fruit or vegetables every day.
Try to include as little meat as possible in your diet as meat contains arachidonic acids which can trigger inflammation.
For anyone with rheumatism wishing to reduce the amount of synthetic medication they are taking, there are several options.
The African herb Devil’s claw is often used in Western medicine for rheumatism due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities. The concentrated extract from the secondary roots of Devil’s claw has a gentle effect on inflammation and pain, is well tolerated and has few side effects. It can be taken over a period of time and is suitable for rheumatic symptoms, particularly chronic symptoms such as arthritis.
Arnica is known as ‘helper plant’ and plays an essential role in the treatment of muscle and joint problems associated with rheumatism. The highly concentrated gel made from fresh Arnica montana flowers can help alleviate pain, is anti-inflammatory and detumescing. It is for external use on affected areas to help combat pain and inflammation.