Vitrification

Vitrification is a process of converting a material into a glass-like amorphous solid that is free from any crystalline structure, either by the quick removal or addition of heat or by mixing with an additive.  So, what does this mean and why am I writing about it?

Well, your most recognizable example of this process occurs as you walk along the beach and you find a solid form of light-brown tinted glass lying in the sand.  When lightning strikes enough sand it can create glass.  In this case, the sand heats up and liquefies, then rapidly cools into a glass-like state.  When you reach down and pick up this vitrified glass you’re holding evidence of nature changing itself.

We can take a lesson from nature.  Feeling awkward in social situations or being mentally challenged often increases our body temperature because our innate “flight-or-flight” preservation response tells us that our system is under attack.  Things are heating up for us, we are getting hotter; sweating, dry mouth, jittery, nervous are all responses that we know.

Do we need to change?  Does the heat that we’re experiencing indicate that we’re getting ready for the proverbial bolt from above?  Will changing help us feel comfortable?  Well, nature seems to understand change fairly well and accepts the idea as part of life.  Could it be that we are stubborn when the need for change comes our way?  I think that we all agree – a bolt of lightning is extreme and no one wants to experience a fast, atmospheric, electric flash with enough energy to discharge itself and change us into glass.

Vitrification is extreme.  Maybe a slow, uncomfortable burn is more manageable when we are looking for clues of change.  We want to feel good, relate well with our partner, enhance our well-being and mental ability in a low anxiety environment.  No one wants to get zapped with high-voltage electricity!  Embracing the need for change may be a powerful potential antidote to loneliness or social isolation – “therapy without a therapist.”

Making change when we first feel uncomfortable in social situations may be the key to a comfortable transition.  Introducing small adjustments to our daily lives before big changes are needed seems logical.  It’s like experiencing light rain with far-off thunder instead of standing in a hurricane with the constant threat of a lightning strike.

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Do You Feel the Anxiety?

As we enter the month of December the feeling of free-floating anxiety is rising.  There seems to be an unwritten rule that we must perform unusual social activities with our friends and casual acquaintances for the next few weeks in order to fulfill an invisible cultural norm.

This duty requires our appearance at social functions that are often scheduled to include potluck meals prepared with high-calorie foods that we prepare late at night with ingredients we normally wouldn’t purchase.  We do this so that our potluck dish will be noticed among all of the other specially prepared meals.  Of course, we also are socially obliged to eat portions of these dishes so that we can fulfill the invisible cultural norm.

As the month of Christmas-tide begins most of us make a mental resolution to manage our sleep routine so that getting enough much-needed shut-eye is a priority.  However, bedtime bleeds into the wee hours as we try to check up on our emails.  Since we are exhausted after a difficult day at the office most of us will try to catch a few winks on the couch before dinner – invariably then we can’t fall asleep at night.  If we do manage to fall asleep all of the festive issues swirling around the season wash through our brain with worry and concern.  When we can’t sleep we get out of bed, turn on the TV and watch the latest re-run of a 20 year old western even though we know that this artificial light interferes with our body’s production of melatonin.

So, now we have eaten too much unhealthy food, socialized with people we don’t know or even like and when we do finally get to bed, we can’t sleep.  Does this sound familiar?

Take a breath.  Understand that you can manage Christmas-tide because you have three tools on your December calendar.  These tools will work well for you because you’re putting them to work early in the month.  They’re easy and free.  Since you know what’s coming in the Christmas-tide from your past experiences you’ll now be prepared to handle situations.  These tools assist you when you feel the anxiety of the season.

  •  Schedule your time
  •  Eat healthy food
  •  Plan for setbacks

These three powerful tools may seem simple and logical but if you put them into practice NOW and physically write them on your December calendar you’ll be successful in using these expert tools.  I know that you’ll make a mental resolution to write the physical words on your calendar or type them into your laptop but I want you to do it NOW. When you feel the anxiety, read the tools!

Purpose

I was listening to an interview with a prominent sports marketing and memorabilia entrepreneur.  This person has overcome multiple challenges in his life to become successful.  These struggles facing humiliation and embarrassment solidified his purpose at a young age.  His focus which was forged into a purpose centers around developing healthy relationships.

It’s obvious that this person is a prominent figure in today’s sports arena.  He has strategically developed business relationships throughout his tenuous career.  Therefore, he enjoys conversational dialogues with well-known athletes.   His personal relationship skills have developed through years of interactions in multiple business ventures.

His personal skills have been finely honed into a detection monitor for the finer things in life.  Although money is important and needed for daily existence the real and sustaining value lies closer to everyone’s reach.  It is something that can be developed and nurtured by anyone desiring to have a rich and full life.  This ‘finer thing’ requires attention to developing problem-solving abilities and upgrading your listening skills.

The purpose of developing healthy relationships is a lifelong skill.   It involves struggling with life’s challenges, appreciating your life, trusting in the goodness of people, looking honestly at disappointments, disassembling your old notions of bias and being charitable toward other’s faults.  In order to have healthy relationships with people, you have to talk to and interact with people.  I know that sounds obvious but the idea can be scary to some people.  Often, people who are skilled at playing hardball in the business world find it difficult to interact in the personal arena with others.  For some reason, these hard-hitting entrepreneurs find that dealing with another human being on a strictly personal level is terrifying.

However, this terror is quickly overcome when a ‘purpose’ is the main focus.  Purpose trumps everything.  Especially when you truly care for people you’ll find that if you decide that your purpose is healthy relationships that’s where your focus will be.  Fostering your interactions with the people that you care for will melt away all of the incidentals in life.  I’m not saying that food or clothing or shelter aren’t vitally important because they are but if you decide that your purpose in life is healthy relationships with yourself and others, the essentials of life will also fit nicely into your life.

The purpose of life is to remember that people are more important than things.

 

Weight or Wait

Grandma’s experiences influence our DNA structure.  The science of Epigenetics studies the chemical modification of genes and how the information in our genes is expressed and used by our cells.

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The reason this concept of weight is important is that if grandma is obese that tendency is imprinted on her DNA and can be genetically passed to her descendants. (DiscoverMagazine.com) Epigenetics doesn’t alter the sequence but influences our gene expression.

A Redbook article (Wrangle Your Stress, Sept.2018) relates that when we’re stressed our body shifts into a fight-or-flight mode.  This hormonal shift signals our body to conserve energy since we’re under attack; our metabolism slows.  This situation also signals the stress hormone, cortisol which increases hunger motivating us to eat foods high in sugar and fat according to Jessica Bartfield, M.D., assistant professor in the Weight Management Center at Wake Forest Medical Center in North Carolina.

This theme of stress and survival imprints on grandma’s DNA and functions much like a stop light; turning “on” or “off” a particular DNA expression. So, if grandma experienced stress on a regular basis the imprint of obesity sits on her DNA and is passed on to her descendants as a potential expression.

An article in WebMD (July/Aug2018) relates that childhood obesity rates continue to rise in the U.S.  The researchers voiced concern that excess weight has become so common that many parents may now see it as normal.

Another study noted in HealthyDay (Sep 19, 2018) relates a quote by Mark Eberhardt, an epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) “Diabetes remains a chronic health problem in this country, affecting some 30 million people.”  This idea is reinforced by the fact that 1 in 7 Americans has diabetes, and many don’t know they have the disease.

Medscape Medical News Jan 20, 2017, cites that the epidemic of obesity is affecting society’s youngest members, driving up rates of type 2 diabetes from infancy to the college years.  Severe obesity is a cause of type 2DM.  Not the only cause, but a direct one.  Increasing rates of obesity will lead to more type 2 DM.

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Obviously, all of this medical research proves that obesity affects our DNA and the tendency for obesity can be passed on to our children who in turn can pass the tendency on to their children.  “Therefore grandma’s experiences leave a mark on your genes.”

So, the question is do we wait to address the issue of obesity?  Since there is scientific evidence that the altered trait of obesity can be transmitted to our grandma’s descendants is it time to integrate genetics into our weight management program?  Waiting to make this change may ensure that the tendency for obesity keeps integrating throughout our coming generations.

Should we wait to act on the weight issue?

Epigenetics

A simple definition of this exciting scientific arena is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes “on” and “off.”  A recent web-based explanation of this emerging medical field takes a walk through the complicated steps to simplify the complicated knowledge.

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Cells are our basic working units and these energetic cacoons contain the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) which are the chemical directors of activities.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is composed of nucleotide bases which we all know as the recognizable “double helix” of our basic building proteins – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.  You may be more familiar with the letters – A, C, G, and T.

Sequencing of these bases is what determines the life instructions for each person – blue eyes, brown hair, long fingers.

Genes are the conductors of the sequencing and provide direction for triggering proteins to carry out life functions.

Epigenetics Controls Genes.  This means that what you experience in your daily life influences this “on” “off” process. The chemical process influencing this activation process can and will modify the “potential” of our individual genes.

The reason this is both interesting and important is that current and ancestral personal activities influence this process.  The chemical influence of methylation which modifies our genes can be passed on from generation to generation.  Scientists verify that astronauts returning from outer space experience this methylation change and the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR/Cas9 is being used to prevent detrimental genetic effects to the astronauts.  In other words, the harmful effects from outer space noted on the astronauts DNA are being removed by gene splicing so that they will not be passed on to the next generation of their family. (Science Oct 28, 2017, 1:43 pm)

This may sound like science fiction.  However, this process is called molecular engineering technologies and scientist can counteract and repair defective genes.

Your DNA also contains information about your health and your grandmother’s health.  Your risk for developing specific diseases is sitting in your genes and can be read like a movie.  Genetic testing can determine your tendency toward developing chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s,  Alzheimer’s, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, macular degeneration and a host of other conditions. (WebMD Sonya Collins – Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD June 2017)

There is also a significant legacy that each person carries with them from their ancestors.  The methylation changes to our DNA carries the memory of our family’s life.  In this regard not only do we need to consider the obvious medical concerns but the emotional issues as well.  If your grandmother lived in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for an extended period of time this environment left a noticeable methylation mark on her DNA.  A study by The Guardian (social-care-network/2015) noted that often times adolescent boys who are abused become abusers.  An additional study by DiscoverMagazine.com/May/2013, “Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes” indicates that a mother’s behavior could cause epigenetic changes in her DNA.  Another publication in the journal Nature Neuroscience (June/2004) verified this scientific finding.  These studies referred to their findings as a post-natal inheritance.  There is additional scientific information that similar activity is occurring during a mother’s developing pregnancy.

In other words, we’re not only what we experience but what our ancestor’s experience.

However, do not dismay.  You can influence this process.  Knowledge is the first step.  If you know your risk and your lifestyle triggers, you can establish protective measures with the goal of preventing the onset of illness or destructive behaviors.  Having a tendency toward something doesn’t mean that you’ll develop that issue.  It simply means that you have information about yourself and your genetic mutation to fit into your preventative maintenance program to help tailor your strategies; it’s a plan.

 

CLUES

How do we define disease? How do we define health?

These seem like easy questions to answer.  We know when someone is sick or when they’re without illness; it’s obvious. We can tell when our body isn’t working “up to par.”

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CLUES are interesting little bits of information that swirl around our everyday lives guiding us through the intricate maze of evidence that can lead us to a solution to our problems.  Often these little, sometimes annoying, indicators lead us to a complete understanding of the issues in our lives, all we need to do is take a few minutes to understand the story that they’re telling us.

As we go along our day performing our comfortable habits in our normal routine these tiny indications slowly creep into our awareness and take on the persona of an aggravating gnat. As usual, we flick this tiny suggestion away from our consciousness as though it were a brief inconvenience.

Our vibrancy, wit, and confidence aren’t threatened so why should we give attention to such a minute detail?  Not until or memory, behavior, daily functions and activities begin to falter does our attention focus on our personal health and wellness.  Now, our daily habits are interrupted.  Now, we notice the CLUES that have been circling and buzzing to attract our attention.

Our flexibility and awareness may need to be reset into the ‘priority’ mode especially when it comes to listening to the CLUES that our body is giving us about our health and wellness.

 

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Update

As an author I am always encouraging my characters to cooperate.

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Writing the final chapter of my next book is proving to be a challenge.  The characters have been described, the plot is developing and suspense has been building for the past few chapters.   So, as I enter the final path toward winding up my story, I’m finding it rather difficult to harness everyone into place so that the plot and the story can be drawn into its logical conclusion.

Wish me luck and physical strength as I take the reins, control this animal and complete my book.

 

LUPUS

You form antibodies or lymphocytes that attack your tissues; you destroy yourselves.  LUPUS, a family of autoimmune conditions, ravages your body, especially systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Your immune system, which normally works to protect you from illness, mutates into a devouring, cannibalistic animal intent on destroying your body.  The potential for this destruction hides in your deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). DNA contains the molecular basis of your heredity and is localized in your cell nuclei.

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LUPUS can attack any system of your body. When this occurs the doctor that you will become familiar with is a Rheumatologist.  This type of specially trained physician deals with acute diseases that are characterized by fever, inflammation and pain in and around the joints, and by inflammation of the membranes surrounding the heart and the heart valves.

Being diagnosed with LUPUS often sets you up to be diagnosed for other chronic diseases in the autoimmune spectrum; conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, cataracts, glaucoma and interstitial lung disease (ILD).  An article in Arthritis Today (Jan/Feb 2016) states that the associated chronic conditions are collective called “Co-morbidity.” Often these medical conditions occur together, although the reason is unclear and it’s virtually impossible to know which comes first.

Since your immune system normally destroys viruses and other invading organisms that cause you illness, the same is true when this system’s potential for destruction is activated by a stressor.  However,  when this activation occurs, your immune system views your body as the invading organism and vigilantly destroys you. Since this activation sets off  chronic inflammation, your body is under attack – forever.  LUPUS is a slow, ever-invading, ever-destroying medical condition.  As I stated before, LUPUS can attack any system in your body.

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So, when you see your Rheumatologist you may be diagnosed with inflammation in multiple parts of your body.  Your joints could be stiff, swollen, hot and painful; your muscles may be achy; fluid may have accumulated around your heart; the functioning of your kidneys may not be working to produce clear urine or the urine may contain small particles of blood; thought processes may have become fussy or slow for you because the chronic inflammation of LUPUS has clouded the functions of your brain; your GI tract is out of sync and you are experiencing either diarrhea or constipation – all symptoms of LUPUS but only one medical condition on the autoimmune spectrum.  Your immune system’s mutation hypervigilance mobilizes and releases pro-inflammatory cytokines and tumor necrosis factor when it senses an invading entity.  This hypervigilance is activated by a stressor.  This stressor can be whatever each individual perceives as a stressor;  prolonged sleep deprivation, suffering from a cold or respiration infection, enduring intense psychological stress or being threatened by a physical danger.  Any or all of these situations can trigger a genetic potential for an autoimmune disease.

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The horizon looks better.  Recent research and current collective medical collaboration provides more treatment options.  Even though your body may be swollen, tired and painful, research shows that moderate exercise will improve your overall health and endurance level.  However, there are a few tips to keep in mind when you put your exercise plan into action.  When you turn your body, do so slowly.  Plan out your route so that you can decrease the number of turns and direction changes.  This will reduce your chance of “tripping over your own feet.”  As you turn, take multiple, small steps and lift your feet instead of pivoting.  Keep your feet under your hips – not too close together or too far apart, as either can cause your to lose your balance (Arthritis Today Mar/Ap. 2018). Also, take advantage of technology.  There are trackers and websites that can help.  You can monitor your symptoms, improve your health, stay on top of your medications, boost your overall fitness and thereby put your e-health to good use.

There are some basic truths about LUPUS that research has made more evident.  – You are a vital part of the health care team – pain medication may be helpful in your care plan – some people may experience medication side effects – pain can signal joint injury or overuse – some people with LUPUS can work by arranging flexible hours – medications won’t cure LUPUS – protecting your joints is vital- let your doctor know your medical history – ask questions of your medical provider.

Selma Gomez was diagnosed with LUPUS and recently underwent a kidney transplant in 2017; her friend Francia Raisa, donated a kidney.  This is just an example of the multiple medical advances in technology surrounding autoimmune conditions.  A few years ago this kind of event would not have been released to the news media.

Over time, LUPUS inflammation will cause damage in the joints and the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support them.  According to Philip J. Mease MD, Director of Rheumatology clinical research at The Swedish Medical Center and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, the goal in treating patients with LUPUS is to achieve either a state of remission or low disease activity.  Standard therapy usually begins with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids to relieve joint symptoms. Methotrexate, alone or with other medication, can be a valuable option.  Methotrexate is referred to as a traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD); it blocks several enzymes involved in the immune system.  The next step is usually to advance toward biologics.  Biologics block proteins or they target T-lymphocytes (T-cells) that play a key role in many inflammatory diseases.  Biologics are genetically engineered from a living organism, such as a virus, gene or protein,  Because they’re grown in labs, and not made from chemicals like many other drugs, they cost more to produce. And because they suppress the immune system, they can increase the risk of infections.  However, biologics may lose their effectiveness over time.  That’s why ongoing drug discovery is so important.  The overall goal of caring for LUPUS patients is controlling the disease activity, making people more comfortable and improving their daily functioning.

You play a vital part in the “exercise-medication” program.  Adhering to the mutually-agreeable upon medical plan devised by you and your medical provider will help to ensure that you modify some joint destruction and disability. Once you’re diagnosed with LUPUS it’s a journey of personal discovery between you and your doctor.

Ghrelin

GHRELIN is an interesting hormone.  According to a recent article in WebMD (July/Aug 2018), this hormone is released from your stomach in large quantities when you lose weight.  So, while you’re trying to reduce your weight, you’re releasing a hormone to encourage yourself to eat more so that you’ll gain weight!  Not only that, the hormone ghrelin doesn’t level off after this roller-coaster ride.  After you have been successful in losing weight, your body does what ever it can to make you fat again.  That’s why researcher say that struggles with obesity and weight maintenance are a lifelong pursuit.  Looking at your relationship with GHRELIN is definitely an intimate experience. The reason why is because this same hormone is your “hunger” hormone.  It plays a pivotal role in helping you to maintain a healthy weight.  Looks like this is another situation where you get the opportunity to make healthy food choices.  Where have we heard that before?  I know – everywhere…

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 A Medscape article (11/4/2016) citing Dr. Kevin Hall from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland, states “that metabolism slows when patients lose weight.”  He goes on to encourage medical providers to be aware that two processes are at work simultaneously: an increased appetite and a slowed metabolism.  This awareness may lead medical provider to develop new treatment guidelines for their patients.  Dr. Hall also goes on to highlight the fact that the few individuals who successfully maintain weight loss over the long term do so by heroic and vigilant efforts.

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A white paper by FAIR Health, a national nonprofit organization, reports that the number of children and adolescents diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has more than doubled in recent years and the increase appears to coincide with a rise in obesity rates and other obesity-related conditions (1/20/2017).  This report is based on actual health insurance claims for a privately insured population.  However, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) shows that there is a “fairly stable” obesity prevalence rate for children and adolescents. The difference between these reports is that the CDC survey is based on interviews and physical exams of a cross-sectional civilian population.  However, each study reports a correlation between age and obesity; that means as our children get older they are getting fatter.

Weighty matters continue to be of concern in the U.S.  In 25 states, laws now require that public schools monitor children’s body mass index (BMI) to identify overweight and obese students.  Fewer than half of the parents receiving their child’s health report card accepted the school’s assessment of their child’s weight (WebMD July/Aug 2018). This may indicate that many parents see excess weight as normal.  An article in WebMD Sept. 2018 issue indicates that more than 50% of babies born in the U.S. since 2000 could live to be at least 100 years of age.  However, this golden centenarian age will definitely be decreased by the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.

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Since we have a lifelong relationship with GHRELIN, we may want to monitor our young children in the basic facts of good nutrition.  Sometimes children view pictures of thin, photo-shopped models portrayed in posed-positions representing unattainable body images inconsistent with life and believe that these photos are the standard of success.  Other children may be dealing with obesity issues and use food as a coping mechanism. Whether you’re an adult challenged with your own weight management lifestyle or you’re a parent dealing with childhood anorexia or obesity, you may want to sharpen your nutrition knowledge about the hormone GHRELIN.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), according to an article in WebMD (5/2018), isn’t our grandparents’ arthritis. This form of arthritis is based in our autoimmune system.

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 Inflammation is the driving force behind many major disorders and rheumatoid arthritis is only one of them.  In a publication by the Arthritis Foundation (Vol.10, Issue 2),  RA Today – The theory is that when a person is genetically predisposed to develop RA, and when the inflammation from that disease flares, the increased inflammation is equivalent to a single match igniting lots of other fires in our body.

Systemic inflammation usually begins when our immune system pumps out inflammatory proteins (cytokines) when not needed.  Normally, our body releases a type of cytokines called TNF (tissue-necrotic factor).  TNF is released when our body is hurt or we have an infection.  TNF acts as a “troop leader” that recruits other cytokines into action.  This recruitment leads to an inflammation cascade that helps to fight off serious infections.   However, when TNF is called out without reason, the inflammation becomes destructive.

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 The article in RA Today states that rheumatoid arthritis occurs when immune cells invade our joints and start churning out TNF.  This invasion not only destroys the joints but other parts of our bodies as well, such as connective tissue i.e. muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joints.  This may be why people who have rheumatoid arthritis are also diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  TNF is mainly produced in fat cells. Yes, fat cells.  Now we all have another reason to maintain a healthy weight and live a healthy lifestyle.

There’s discussion around the issue of what causes RA.  Newer studies point to disruptions in the microbes – bacteria, yeasts and fungi – that play critical roles in regulating the immune system.  Other researchers document a genetic component; that is if your parent or grandparent had RA you have a greater chance of being diagnosed with RA.  Still other studies point to stress being the main culprit targeting and disrupting the immune system. Whatever the cause, RA is variable because it’s autoimmune.  Meaning that symptoms can “come and go” and it can be diagnosed in both children and adults.  One thing is certain, RA can affect every organ of the body – eyes, mouth, skin, heart, kidneys, lungs, etc.  The most debilitating symptom is fatigue.  Up to 98% of people with RA report that they suffer from this “RA fatigue.”

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 Sleeping will not satisfy this fatigue although rest will help you stay healthier.  This type of fatigue can be relieved, in part, by medication because the medication brings down the inflammation.   If you’re diagnosed with RA there are some steps that you can take to foster better health for yourself.  The first is to maintain contact with good medical providers who are involved in your care.  This is a vital step.  Getting evidence-based, medically-accepted care early in your treatment process is important in managing your care.  Another wise step is to stop smoking or using tobacco products if you are currently doing so.  Also maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising to tolerance is helpful. Research shows that people with RA who are obese are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

New drugs are also on the horizon.  Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are effective but must be used under the direction of a medical provider.  Some new biologics have been shown to be extremely effective in reducing inflammation, halting joint destruction and easing pain.  The number of patients undergoing joint replacements in the last two decades for RA has decreased dramatically.

Arthritis Today states in an article entitled “Chronic Pain & The Brain” (Sept/Oct 2018) that patients with RA show the same brain changes for heightened pain sensitivity as people diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Both patients have the same “pro-pain” changes.  This change occurs in the central nervous system (CNS) – the brain and spinal cord – where pain signals are processed.  This accounts for the fact that many people with RA have pain even when their inflammation is well controlled with medication.

Dr. M. Elaine Husni, director of the Arthritis Center at Cleveland Clinic, says: The earlier you start treatment, the better the response.