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My mother-in-law has been battling arthritis for 38 years. This is what I’ve learnt from her

Published on:1 September 2020, 13:54pm IST
For my mother-in-law, arthritis just doesn’t come with physical deformities but severe pain and morning stiffness as well.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Rheumatoid arthritis can only be controlled, not cured. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

When I had only heard about this disease called rheumatoid arthritis, I believed it was related to the deformity of bones. But, when I saw my mother-in-law dealing with this auto-immune disease, I was able to understand just how painful and uncomfortable it can be. The most unfortunate part about it is that it doesn’t have a cure as of now.

So, my mother-in-law’s experience helped me demystify this chronic inflammatory disorder and this is what I have learned about it.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not just restricted to your joints
Although the major effect of this disorder is confined to the joints and bones, there is no denying that it also has major implications when it comes to other organs like eyes, lungs, and heart. Even The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approves this fact.

Basically, in case of auto-immune diseases, the body gets confused and the immune system of the person starts attacking the healthy cells. Due to this, swelling, pain, and inflammation is observed.

Age is no bar when it comes to RA and women are prone to it
Researchers are still understanding what causes this disorder. The initial finding is that genetics might have a role to play. Although genes don’t lead to this problem, they can create a susceptible environment for this disorder. 

Arthritis is a foe to your parents joints. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

I’ve always thought that arthritis is an old-age problem but when my mother-in-law told me that she has been dealing with it for the last 38 years, I realized that age has nothing to do with it. 

She told me that during her college days, she used to depend on steroids to keep the pain down. The deformity in her hands and toes started in the initial years itself. Being the head strong woman that she is, she decided to try everything under the sun that can make her situation better.

Old school remedies like naturopathy and yoga can be of real help
According to many experts, a patient of rheumatoid arthritis needs to take care of her health and lifestyle to live a longer life which is free of pain since the inflammation caused in the body can reach to various other organs and slowly weaken the immune system of the person. 

Thanks to old school remedies like yoga and naturopathy, my mother-in-law has managed to tame the unbearable pain for a good number of years. She hasn’t stopped her medicines but due to a healthy lifestyle, the dosage has never surpassed the upper limit.

Her naturopathy session consisted of massages, steam, and physiotherapies. She also included yoga in her routine and that has kept the mobility in her joints alive.

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“There is no cure but yoga and naturopathy can help in restricting the degeneration of the bones and joints. In many cases, it has been seen that yoga and exercise can decrease the pain and improve the mobility in the person” says Dr Babina NM, chief medical officer from Jindal Naturecure Institute. 

“Naturopathy blesses the patients of arthritis with a healthy body. It makes the immune system stronger and provides relief from pain as well as swelling”, she continued.

Another thing that my mother-in-law practises is hot and cold compression therapy which helps her in giving relief from morning stiffness and joint spasm. 

Another trick I have learnt from my MIL is how food can bring relief
I’ve been observing my MIL following a strict morning routine for two years. She includes a bowl full of seeds and nuts in her diet. There are flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, muskmelon seeds, raisins, and cashew. 

And now I know the reason behind it. 

According to Dr Babina, eating habits make a lot of difference in a person dealing with arthritis. Here’s why:

1. The person requires nutrients like vitamin D, omega 3 and 6 along with calcium. All the nuts and seeds stated above are nutrient rich and help in reducing inflammation in the body.

2. Instead of noshing on carbs for energy, it is better to take energy from these healthier sources as they won’t lead to weight gain. For arthritis patients, weight gain means more pressure on their joints which can lead to further degeneration of bones.

rheumatoid arthritis
Don’t think, go nuts for nuts. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

There’s no doubt that things might get a little trickier with age but to reduce a decline in your medical situation, it is important to start taking care of things at an early stage.

This is what my mother-in-law is doing everyday without fail. It has helped her battle this disease with grace and endurance. Having said that, there are bouts of pain due to her age but her immune system is giving her all the power to deal with it.

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.