The most common inflammatory joint disease in Germany is polyarthritis. It hurts in the joints, the hands and feet are difficult to move. With such limitations, everyday life quickly becomes a challenge. We at the Saxon State Spas give you an overview of the disease and tell you how radon as a natural remedy positively supports the treatment.
Polyarthritis - also known as chronic polyarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis - is one of the inflammatory autoimmune diseases. Not only in Germany it is well known because of its wide distribution. It also occurs quite frequently worldwide. If the joint pain occurs without inflammation, it is arthralgia, not arthritis.
In polyarthritis, several joints are affected by joint inflammation. In addition, organs, bursae and tendon sheaths can also be affected. If only one joint is inflamed, it is a monoarthritis, in two to four joints it is an oligoarthritis. The “poly” means that several joints are always affected by inflammation - from five or more affected areas one speaks of polyarthritis.
Although the disease is often diagnosed in senior citizens, younger people can also develop polyarthritis. In the age between 40 and 60 years the risk of disease is particularly high. In Germany, approximately 700,000 people suffer from the autoimmune disease, almost one percent of the total population.
The joint disease can cause great pain, severe swelling and redness. For example, fingers and hands are difficult to move. Even running or bending the knees becomes a torture. The cause of the symptoms is inflammation. If the arthritis is acute, the inflammation will subside after days or a few weeks. Only after a period of six weeks is the disease known as chronic arthritis.
In general, the symptoms of polyarthritis resemble those of conventional arthritis. There are differences, however, but be careful with guesswork. There may be some differences, but be careful with suppositions. Even for an expert, diagnosis can sometimes be a challenge.
In the following we give you an overview of the most important leading symptoms:
- severe joint pain
- swollen joints
- pressure on the joints
- joint redness
- heat sensation in the joints
- feeling of weakness
- morning stiffness
- loss of appetite
The symptoms occur particularly in resting phases and can be alleviated by movement. This is why those affected often complain of pain at night. The finger and wrist joints are most frequently affected by the disease. Not all listed symptoms must occur, but they are an indication of the autoimmune disease. Often the disease also manifests itself in the form of tendosynovitis in the hand, as the inflammation can spread to tendon sheaths and bursae. In particularly severe cases, a torn tendon may even occur.
In 30 percent of all polyarthritis patients, the so-called rheumatic nodules appear in the area of bone protrusions, ligaments and tendons. The size depends on the strength of the inflammation.
The mentioned symptoms usually occur chronically. But also acute - and therefore usually stronger - attacks occur from time to time. During an acute episode, other symptoms may appear, that you did not notice before. Even depression and weight loss due to loss of appetite are possible.
If you notice signs of possible polyarthritis on fingers, hands, toes or feet, it is best to act immediately. The faster rheumatoid polyarthritis is detected, the more effective treatment methods. However, if the disease remains untreated, it spreads and systematically infects other joints: first the base of the fingers, then the knee joints and wrists, ankle joints, toe and elbow joints up to the cervical spine.
Since the inflammations occur repeatedly, over time the affected joints are destroyed, sometimes even the adjacent bones. This results in deformations and misalignments of the joints. Mobility and gripping power suffer from these consequences. If adjacent nerves are affected by the disease, numbness or sensation may occur. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a classic example.
If organs are affected, this is a particularly severe, very rare course of the disease. Inflammations of organs quickly become life-threatening. Particularly at risk are the pleura, the heart muscle and the lungs, but also vascular inflammation and inflammation of the eye can occur. The sicca syndrome is also not unusual, which leads to dryness of eyes and mouth.
The exact causes of polyarthritis have not been clarified until today. Various theories regarding the origin of the disease are being researched. On the one hand, genetic factors and heredity are thought to play a role, as polyarthritis is more common in families.
On the other hand, the disease can be a side effect of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, Ross River fever, Morbus Crohn or Morbus Whipple. Acute polyarthritis cannot be ruled out even in cases of infection with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, Epstein-Barr and rubella. It can be triggered by a parvovirus B19 infection, especially in young women who have frequent contact with small children. The disease occurs less frequently in ulcerative colitis.
As it is an autoimmune disease, the body’s own immune system attacks its own cells. It is therefore a faulty reaction of the immune system, which should normally protect us from outside intruders. Many patients carry the HLA gene DR4/DRB1, while only 25 percent of the healthy population has this gene variant. The HLA, human leukocyte antigen, marks cells as endogenous or exogenous, so that the immune system knows which structures to attack. If this differentiation does not function correctly and own cells are marked as foreign, the immune system attacks the body’s own structures. This is called an autoimmune reaction. In case of polyarthritis, the cartilages are particularly affected. This is where inflammation develops, which is responsible for the symptoms.
As the immune system is active throughout the body, soft-tissues or organs can also be affected - this is where there is the biggest difference to rheumatism, as this disease only affects joints. Also, in the case of arthrosis, the cause lies elsewhere: The joint inflammation is caused by wear and tear. In case of polyarthritis, the wear and tear only result from the inflammation.
It is also discussed which substances have a conducive effect on the development of polyarthritis - such as tobacco smoking. According to the latest findings, pro-inflammatory hormones, the so-called cytokines, could also contribute to the disease.
When and why and in what form polyarthritis breaks out is still being researched. In addition to environmental influences such as allergies or infections, the immune system is crucial here, as it turns against its own body and produces cytokines that cause pain and swelling as well as signs of wear in the joints.
Treatment of polyarthritis with the natural remedy radon
During the drinking treatment, the radon mineral healing water enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract and thus unfolds its naturally gentle effect. The healing water is drunk regularly over a longer period of time for therapeutic purposes. The duration, amount and time of drinking is determined by the spa doctor. Especially the “Wettinquelle” with approx. 24,000 Bq/l radon is considered the strongest radon spring in the world.
Natural healing water is created by the slow infiltration of rain water through different geological layers of rock. During this process it is cleaned, filtered and enriched with minerals and trace elements. In this enriched deep water, carbon dioxide is released by solidified magma from past volcanic activity. The noble gas radon is formed from the radium contained everywhere in the earth’s crust. The Bad Brambach mineral springs receive their health-promoting radon content from the Fichtelgebirge granite. All sources are strictly checked according to the Medicines Act.
In the early stages, many polyarthritis patients first consult their family doctor. Unfortunately, the unspecific symptoms can often be misinterpreted as harmless flu-like infections. If you know that there are cases of polyarthritis in your family, be sure to tell your family doctor. Although he cannot make a diagnosis, he can refer you to a rheumatologist. The specialist has the necessary knowledge and experience to make the correct diagnosis and initiate the appropriate therapy.
Further, a blood test and imaging examination procedures such as an MRI follow. If there are already changes in the joints, these can also be clearly seen on X-rays.
In case of polyarthritis there are changes in blood values:
- elevated C-reactive protein (CRP)
- strongly accelerated blood sedimentation rate (BSG)
- lowered hemoglobin (Hb)
- elevated coeruloplasmin
- increased α2 and γ bands in electrophoresis
Further laboratory values such as the rheumatoid factor, CCP antibodies and other autoantibodies may indicate the disease.
They make a decisive contribution to finding a diagnosis. It is also easier to determine the stage of the disease. An X-ray of the hands and feet allows the doctor to detect changes in the joints that are indicative of polyarthritis:
- cartilage loss
- narrowing of the joint space
- joint dislocation
Other imaging procedures that can help with the diagnosis are:
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRT)
It is also not easy for the physician to safely diagnose polyarthritis at the beginning of the disease. This is because at this early stage clear indications are often missing. The specialist will first examine you and probably apply the ACR criteria (American College of Rheumatology). According to this method, polyarthritis should have at least four of the following symptoms:
- morning stiffness, lasting at least one hour
- inflammation in three or more joints
- hand arthritis
- symmetrical arthritis
- rheumatic nodules
- rheumatoid factors in the blood
- joint changes visible in the X-ray image
Your doctor will ask you many more questions about previous diseases, surgeries, allergies and other areas. Answer absolutely honestly and do not conceal anything. If you smoke, mention it, because smoking favours the causes of arthritis and it could be a cause.
You have been diagnosed with polyarthritis. Now it is a matter of living with the disease and maintaining the state of health as far as possible. Therefore, a holistic therapy approach with drugs and physical therapies is very useful in order to achieve the best possible quality of life. Psychotherapy can also help you to cope with the disease, for example if you have to give up smoking or go on a diet.
The general goal is always to make your life as painless and independent as possible. You can actively contribute to this by leading a healthy lifestyle. This includes exercise, a varied diet and the avoidance of overweight and nicotine or cigarette smoke. You will feel fitter and healthier and the risk of developing polyarthritis will decrease in the first place. With a healthy posture, you can postpone the course of the disease and live longer symptom-free.
If you suffer from the disease as a woman at a young age, the symptoms often decrease during pregnancy.
If you are overweight, it is worth losing weight. This relieves the joints and reduces pain. Furthermore, a low meat or vegetarian nutrition has a beneficial effect on polyarthritis patients. The arachidonic acid contained in meat and substances formed from it promote inflammation. A good supply of calcium and vitamins to strengthen bones and joints is advisable.
As the severity of the autoimmune disease increases, you can have handles fitted to the bathtub. The entire bathroom can also be designed to be equipped for the disabled in case of greater immobility.
You will also find many aids in the medical supply store, such as a rollator or walking stick, dressing, buttoning and gripping aids, which make everyday life with polyarthritis easier. Let your health insurance company inform you in advance which aids and services are covered.
It is helpful to apply for a degree of care. This means that you will receive special care services from the health insurance company to support you. Whether you prefer assisted living or home care is entirely up to you.
As is usually the case with incurable diseases, the symptoms increase over the years and the periods without symptoms become shorter. Surgery and injections into the affected joints may at some point become necessary to correct misalignments and alleviate pain.
There are several terms circulating in Germany that all describe the same disease. Physicians usually refer to polyarthritis as chronic polyarthritis. The term rheumatoid arthritis is used internationally. You will often find the abbreviation RA or cP in medical letters.
Prevention of the disease is difficult because the causes are not fully understood. Environmental influences can be taken into account. Leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding overweight and smoking reduces the risk of the disease breaking out.
One to two percent of the entire population suffer from polyarthritis. It mainly affects women between 40 and 70 years of age. About 75 percent of patients are women. The disease does not only affect the elderly, but the risk is particularly high here.
There is another variant of polyarthritis, the juvenile form. In this case, babies are already affected by the disease.
The course of polyarthritis is divided into four stages. Each is characterised by different symptoms. They range from joint swelling and morning stiffness to instability and deformation of the joints.
If you have been diagnosed with polyarthritis, you have a good chance of receiving a degree of care. It is best to apply for the level of care, as you will receive financial support for aids, therapies and care services depending on your level. There are five levels of care in total.
A level of care significantly simplifies the treatment of the autoimmune disease. The care insurance offers numerous benefits. In addition, there is a monthly supply of care aids. Check with your insurance company to find out exactly which services you can take advantage of.
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