I Keep Trying to Get Better at Finding Better RA Info - Here's What I've Found
One of the inevitabilities when you live with rheumatoid arthritis is the day you start googling about it. I was diagnosed long before the birth if the internet, and even if the internet existed back then, searching rheumatoid arthritis treatment wouldn’t have been very helpful because there wasn’t much knowledge about the immune system, or RA back then. We really are living in historic times, a golden era to date for people with RA, because of the number of options that are available to help, in both the conventional medical and in the non-conventional arenas. The problem is, along with all of the potentially helpful options we can find on the internet, there are also a multitude of bad ideas, wrong information, and heavy sales jobs for expensive, useless treatments. So how do you weed through the weeds to get to the gems when you are looking for ways to help yourself?
Find Primary Sources and More Than One Mention
When I saw the headline, "Baking Soda, a safe, easy treatment for arthritis,” I immediately looked to see who wrote the article. I saw it came from a site called Medical News Today. That sounds reputable, but knowing that anyone can create a website and call it anything they want, I looked further. I saw that Science daily, a website that I know and trust, covered the same story. I also saw that the article quoted one of the authors of the study and that it had been published in the Journal of Immunology, a reputable journal. Being aware that medical ghostwriting is a big problem in medical journals if this article was about a new drug treatment instead of a nearly free household remedy, I would look a bit further into the journal and see what the response was from peers of the people who did the research. Finally, I found the study itself. All of these things helped me to understand that this is reliable information that I may want to consider trying.
Be Aware of the Three Bewares
When I am searching for new ideas about how to help my body feel better, I am especially leery of three things: Big claims, most especially the word cure, severe diet recommendations, and big bottom lines.
If something you read about mentions the word cure, stop reading. If someone you are seeing for treatment mentions that they have the ability to cure you or make you pain-free, don’t waste a minute more of your time, turn around and leave as soon as you can. They are at the very least misguided, and if they really had the ability to cure pain or RA, they would own their own island somewhere and be too busy to talk to the likes of you. If they have cured someone with joint pain, that person didn’t have RA. Bottom line, unfortunately, at this time no cure exists for chronic pain or RA. As far as arthritis-friendly diets, there are more than a few out there, some of which avoid entire food groups, something that always makes me suspicious. There is no one-size-fits all diet that will help all of us equally, just like there is no one medication that helps all of us. Proponents of certain diets claiming to rid the body of inflammation don’t seem to understand this and I really don’t have the time to help them, so I’ve learned to steer clear of them instead. There is plenty of good information out there about a healthy anti-inflammatory food guide and I stick to that. This also goes for people who want me to shell out exorbitant amounts of money to buy their treatment or gadget. I haven’t always been this way which is why I have a closet full of things that I used for a few months before deciding they were a waste of my time. One caveat I have is this: if I do my research and feel like the treatment is well worth the money I’ll invest in myself. I have a far infrared sauna that cost over $3,000 and I use it a few times a week, even after ten years, because it works that well for me. By now, the big cost has paid for itself many times over.
Get a Few Expert Opinions ( Don’t rely solely on testimonials)
Testimonials are great because they mean at least one person was helped by the treatment in question. But most testimonials will have very little relevance for you, unless they are coming from someone who is related, or you are hearing thousands of them. So, when I’m researching a possible treatment I again go to the source. If I can get in touch with the person who came up with the treatment or someone who studied under them, I do it. That way I can describe my issues and get advice that is more helpful for my particular situation. Often, this isn’t possible, so instead, I talk to my doctor if it is a medication or medical treatment, and to a few naturopaths I know and trust if it is a non-conventional treatment. That way I have an informed idea about how to proceed and I know more about what to expect.
Finally, I have to quote Winston Churchill, who once said something akin to, “Never, never, never give up.” This quote is my inspiration for continuing the search for a better life with JRA. Because treatment is all a best guess, and also a moving target, it’s important to keep looking, to keep searching, because one day you may just find something that will change your life. The far-infrared sauna is one example of something I found through research that has changed mine and knowing that keeps my momentum in a hopeful, forward direction. I’m not giving up, ever. My life depends on it.
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?