Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a condition I always look out for. Symptoms can be exactly the sort of thing a patient may come to an osteopath to treat, so I do see these patients from time to time. Apart from the fact that medications, for all their faults, can prevent joint destruction and disability, and I want my patients to be able to make an informed choice as soon as possible about their treatment pathways, there are some osteopathic techniques which would have an increased risk for a patient with this condition, so I would avoid them and work differently. We know what RA is, that it is an autoimmune inflammatory condition that affects the synovium (the material lining synovial joint capsules) but we don't fully understand why some people are susceptible and what triggers it on those people. Some interesting research involving a very large group of people studied over many years has come to the conclusion that high overall cholesterol levels are linked with later development of Rheumatoid Arthritis - in women only, in men there is no relationship. How does this information help us? Well! The link is not so clear as to suggest that the high cholesterol is responsible for the RA and high cholesterol is not suggested as a reliable indicator for future RA, but the findings suggest that the early development of RA may use hormone-related metabolic pathways and the findings may have implications for future disease prevention and management of patients at risk of RA associated cardiovascular disease.
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Damian is the principal osteopath at Vauxhall Village Osteopathy and Oval Osteopathy