Unlike other forms of arthritis (such as other forms of inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis), joint damage is typically mirrored on both sides of the body in Rheumatoid arthritis. Also the lining of your joints are impacted, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and deformity.
The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis is what can damage other parts of the body as well. While medications only help somewhat with symptoms, severe rheumatoid arthritis can still cause physical disabilities.
About 40 percent of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis also experience painful symptoms that don’t involve the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect:
- Salivary glands
- Nerve tissue
- Bone marrow
- Blood vessels
The Conventioal Medicine Approach
Rheumatoid arthritis can be hard to diagnose in its early stages because the early signs and symptoms mimic symptoms of many other illnesses. There is no one blood test or physical finding to confirm the diagnosis.
Diagnosing RA typically requires a physical exam of your joints, along with determining your range of motion and checking for tenderness as well as muscle strength.
Doing the appropriate blood tests is also important to check for certain markers like inflammatory markers and elevated antibodies, normally present in autoimmune conditions.
X-rays, MRI and ultrasound tests may be used to track the progression or assess the severity of the disease in your body.
Instead of dealing with the root causes of this condition (there is no one cause), you will most likely be prescribed extremely expensive medications including injectable biologics, or other immunosuppressive medications that may temporarily ease symptoms. While these medications are much improved from past RA drugs, they still do not address all aspects of the disease, and they can lead to other problems long term. Our philosophy is to get your body in the best shape possible so that you can use the least amount and lowest dose of these drugs while adequately controlling your symptoms.
The Functional Medicine Approach
The functional and integrative medicine approach to treating RA is a far more holistic approach. Instead of assessing the progression of your condition, Dr. Yoakam works to discover the root causes and adjusts the lifestyle and biological imbalances that are at the core of illness progression.
At Sarah Yoakam, MD, we start with a far more thorough assessment of your past medical testing, past medical history including any past illnesses, nutrition, and anything that could contribute to RA.
Gut imbalances play a huge role in all autoimmune cases, and this one of many areas that conventional practitioners typically miss because they haven’t been trained in microbial testing in medical school.
When dealing with RA, conventional medicine only covers a small piece of the testing necessary to understand everything impacting your RA. With functional and integrative medicine testing, we can assess all the markers that cause progression and flare-ups. Functional medicine testing excels in the area of autoimmune disease, because it provides very detailed information that helps your practitioner create a very personalized healing protocol.
Our team at Sarah Yoakam, MD works with clients, case-by-case, to determine what additional testing is needed. If you have been experiencing chronic symptoms that may be connected with Rheumatoid Arthritis and are looking for answers, schedule an appointment with Sarah Yoakam, MD today!