Dear Dietitian – Help for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Published Sunday, June 17, 2018
PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
by Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian,

I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis and osteoarthritis. I was curious if the "fad" supplements and plans will relieve the joint pain caused by these diseases? I am on several drugs that deal directly with the RA and its side effects. With the fatigue I suffer with, they all seem like more work than I am able to commit to. I own my own business and work full time. By the time I get home, I can barely get dinner ready before I have to rest. Do you know of any of these wonder plans that have helped? I'm not interested in wasting money, time and effort into something that is just a fad. I'm looking for real relief.

--Carla

Dear Carla,

I sympathize with you. It is hard enough to work full-time, let alone deal with chronic illnesses. For readers who are not familiar with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is an autoimmune disorder that causes pain and swelling in the joints.  People with RA may suffer from fatigue, depression, or a general feeling of discomfort. While there is no cure for the disease, its symptoms can be managed. 

You will find all kinds of "miracle cures" on the internet, but before you spend money, do research on the product. Talk to your doctor about it. Consult the Arthritis Foundation at arthritis.org. And remember the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.". 

There are some studies that suggest certain supplements may help alleviate the symptoms of RA. Omega-3-fatty acids (fish oil) aid in reducing inflammation. You may take a supplement or increase your intake of fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, or sardines. Be careful when taking a fish oil supplement as it may increase bleeding. Boswellia, ginger, and tumeric have been found to reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with RA. Talk to your doctor before taking supplements so that you can understand the possible side effects and drug interactions.

These are some general tips that may help with the discomfort caused by rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Weight loss- if you are overweight, even a 15% weight loss can ease the pressure on your joints.
  • Exercise-low-impact exercise such as swimming may be helpful.  Always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen.
  • Diet:  Eat a diet low in low in sugar. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and limit desserts.

Sincerely,

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RD, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian with over fifteen years of experience. Have a question?  Email Leanne at DearDietitian411@gmail.com.