According to present usage, the name rheumatoid arthritis is applied to more than one kind of chronic inflammation of joints. In one type there are no bony changes in the joints, at any rate not until the disease is very advanced, but swelling of the synovial membrane and the soft tissues round the joint. These become contracted, and may thus cause more or less fixation of the joint, probably in a bad position.
In another type, although there is first of all synovitis, bony changes appear early. The cartilage on the ends of the bones softens and disappears, and at a later stage the exposed bone may become smooth and polished, or ebumated. Frequently there are ridges on one bony surface which fit into grooves on another with which it comes into contact. Fringes form on the synovial membrane, and in these there may he a deposition of lime salts. The bone at the margins of the joint also becomes prominent, or lipped. In some cases bony ankylosis of the joint occurs.
The changes in the type just described are similar to those found in osteo-arthritis (q.v.), which, however, is a disease affecting elderly people, whereas the victims of rheumatoid arthritis are usually between twenty and forty when the disease begins.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in a series of acute attacks, lasting from four to six weeks at a time. Fever is not very high and the pulse is rapid, more so than would be expected from the height of the temperature. The first joints to be affected are those just beyond the knuckles, but later joints all over the body are involved, those of the lower jaw being common ones. As the acute attacks follow one another, the deformity and disablement become worse. A common deformity of the hand is deflection of the fingers to the ulnar side.
The prime cause of rheumatoid arthritis is the activity of certain bacteria of low virulence. These form foci of infection, most commonly at the roots of the teeth or in the tonsils, but it may be at other situations in, or on, the body. The treatment of the disease should therefore begin with a search for some such focus and an attempt to clean it up, with, possibly, a course of vaccine treatment also.
During the acute stage the patient should be kept at rest, and, as the deformity is caused in the first place by spasm of muscles, the affected joints should be splinted in such a position as to prevent deformity. These positions are described under the heading Joints, and they must also be preserved when there is a risk of a joint becoming ankylosed.
When, however, the acute stage has passed off, the joints are freely and fully moved by the doctor or someone under his direction.
Various methods including fomentations, baths of various kinds, diathermy and electrical treatment, are used to diminish pain and swelling. Massage, whirlpool baths and electrical stimulation are also useful in preserving the tone of the muscles. The diet should be generous, a considerable amount of red meat being allowed, but it may be desirable to restrict carbohydrate foods. Cod-liver oil is often a useful addition to the diet. Ultra-violet rays are often used in order to increase the general resistance to infection, and guaiacol carbonate or sulphur may be given to disinfect the bowel. See: Joint.. Osteo-arthritis..
Application and treatment:
It is a chronic disease of the joints, marked by inflammatory changes in the synovial membranes which secrete a transparent, viscid, lubrication fluid from tendon sheaths and joint areas (bursae and articulating membranes and by atrophy (wasting away from want of nourishment) and rarefication (thin, porous, less dense) of the bones. It occurs mainly in people 20 to 40 years old. Changes start in small joints with swelling, pain, and movement limitation. In chronic stages there are muscular atrophy, deformities and inability to flex and extend the joint and motor impairment is permanent unless unlocked with polarity. The spinal column may be curved; there may be destruction of the bone matrix with fusion of the joints.
Often joint pain may indicate tumor growth or inflammation of the nerves surrounding a joint. Joint pains are caused by allergies to penicillin and other drugs from negative polarity which must be polarized out. Inflammation of joints in the fingers is very common and can show in wrists, knees, ankles and feet. In the early stage there is weakness, weight loss, poor appetite, fever and mild joint pain throughout the body and excessive sweating of hands and feet, which comes later. See: Arthritis..
Use electrode pad applications to either side of the affected joint to relieve acute pain and swelling. Water pan applications including detox frequencies should also be applied.
The problem in the curing of this disease, like that of osteoarthritis, is that even when the disease is eliminated, the damage, if extensive, will bring on its return, in many cases.
Complete cures have been reported, regular moderate exercise, sensible diet, and supplements such as thyroid extract have been shown to be of help in controlling pain and flare-ups which often come with changes in the weather.