M.M. is a 28-year old woman who developed joint pain in her limbs and general fatigue, which began after giving birth to her daughter. She saw a rheumatologist, who diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
RA is an autoimmune disease, which causes the immune system to attack tissues of the body, resulting in chronic inflammation of the joints, usually affecting the hands and feet.
RA can also affect the eyes, skin, lungs, heart, blood or nerves, as well as sometimes causing life-long joint destruction and disability.
M.M. was diagnosed with RA, despite the fact that nothing in her blood work indicated that to be the case. Rheumatoid arthritis will cause certain biomarkers to show up in the blood when there is an active disease process.
M.M also had x-rays taken of of her hands to check for joint destruction, all of which were negative. In fact, the radiologist’s written report states “no acute process seen.”
Although nothing showed up to definitively diagnose RA, M.M. was told she should be treated for it anyway. In fact, her doctor told her that 30-33% of those with RA have no sign of the disease in blood.
So, anyone with fatigue and joint pain can be given the diagnosis of RA?
She was given the drugs Enbrel, Orencia, Prednisone, Methylprednisolone and, last, Methotrexate – a chemotherapy drug. Enbrel and Orencia both suppress the immune system. Prednisone and Methylpednisolone are steroids to decrease inflammation.
Methotrexate is a drug used to kill cancer. Methotrexate is now given to people with autoimmune diseases although the mechanism of action for RA is unknown!
The rheumatologist told M.M to return every few months to have her blood checked for complications of the drugs prescribed.
Since RA did not show up in the blood, there was nothing to check regarding her ‘disease’. M.M came to see me after meeting me at a conference.
We discussed her history and her goals, including her options. I explained that many autoimmune diseases can stem from a processed-food diet, as well as giving birth, major stress, and infections like strep.
The first step for her was a food-elimination diet.
Second, I recommended joint manipulation to help alleviate the joint pain and stiffness.
During this time, she decided to stop taking all the drugs. I recommended having special blood testing done to confirm or rule out an autoimmune condition.
This involved testing TH1 & TH2 cytokines – components of the immune system that will tell the story of immune dysfunction. As expected, this test was negative for autoimmune issues.
Eight weeks following her care and lifestyle changes, including specific nutraceuticals to balance the activity of her immune system, M.M is almost symptom-free and enjoying life again.