Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Fun and Joy of Having Rheumatoid Arthritis

Back in March 2012 my right knee blew up to be the size of a melon. I had it drained, filled with cortisone and Euflexxa but something was just not right. It would constantly fill up with fluid; even to the point that my left knee started to get jealous and do the same thing, After about 5 knee drains and 5 cortisone shots later, I decided to completely change my diet/eating. I have eliminated all vegetable oils but olive oil, do not eat fried foods anymore, no more baked goods, nothing with any saturated fats in it, no red meat of any kind, and limit my intake of dairy. Now while that has helped in the long run, I was still waking up in the morning with a lot of stiffness in my joints and overall pain.

My doctor decided to run some blood tests on me to make sure my liver enzymes were okay after I had my gall bladder removed back in August. Luckily that was okay, but guess what was through the roof? My rheumatoid factor. Now I bet you are asking yourself -- what is a rheumatoid factor? Well here is the clinical definition: Rheumatoid factor (RF) is the autoantibody (antibody directed against an organism's own tissues) that is most relevant in rheumatoid arthritis. It is defined as an antibody against the Fc portion of IgG. RF and IgG join to form immune complexes that contribute to the disease process. Rheumatoid factor can also be a cryoglobulin (antibody that precipitates on cooling of a blood sample); it can be either type 2 (monoclonal IgM to polyclonal IgG) or type 3 (polyclonal IgM to polyclonal IgG) cryoglobulin.
Rheumatoid factor can be of either isotype of immunoglobulins, i.e. IgA, IgG, IgM,[2] IgE,[3] IgD.[4]

Okay I know that is a bunch of science right there. Believe me I do not understand it either so here is an interpretation that I found that might help you and I understand this a little bit better. Rheumatoid factor is an immunoglobulin (antibody) which can bind to other antibodies. Antibodies are normal proteins found in the blood which function within the immune system. Rheumatoid factor though is not normally found in the general population (only found in about 1-2% of healthy people). The incidence of rheumatoid factor increases with age and about 20% of people over 65 years old have an elevated rheumatoid factor.

A blood test is used to detect the presence of rheumatoid factor. The blood test is commonly ordered to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid factor is present in 80% of adults who have rheumatoid arthritis but there is a much lower prevalence in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The incidence of rheumatoid factor increases with duration of disease in rheumatoid arthritis: at 3 months the incidence is 33%, while at one year it is 75%. Up to 20% of rheumatoid arthritis patients remain negative for rheumatoid factor (also known as "seronegative rheumatoid arthritis") throughout the course of their disease.

So while I am healthy, certain antibodies are becoming buddy buddy with one another causing my joints to get stiff and sore. Believe me -- it is a true pain with no pun intended. I see a rheumatologist this coming Friday which will help me determine if I do have RA. Right now what I do for it is I switch up taking Aleve and Turmeric followed up by rubbing various pain relief creams into my joints as well as go to physical therapy at least twice a week. Also my RA is effecting my ankles and my shoulders. It tends to work itself out throughout the day but if it is too cold or damp outside, I do feel it. I will not let this get the best of me though. I will do what I have to do to make myself feel good and happy.

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