Arthritis, Allergy & Auto-Immunity

Arthritis, allergy and auto-immunity, and various other kinds of sensitivity may all involve the immune system of the body behaving abnormally. In arthritis this is excessive self-reactivity.

Allergy

There are several kinds of sensitivity reaction which are not strictly allergic. The word 'allergy' was originally invented to signify a sensitivity reaction which was unexpected and seemed inappropriate because there had been harmless prior contact with the same substance.

We now confine the term to conditions where the IgE antibody class is involved in causing this secondary or 'acquired' reaction.

It now seems that some kinds of food sensitivity including IBS are related to an increase in specific antibodies of the IgG class, which are by definition not 'allergic'. It can be useful to test for those antibodies and we do this if necessary.

Auto-Immunity

Autoimmunity means cases where the immune system has been wrongly directed to attack the patient's own body. In some common types of disorder arthritis is a component, which can make recognition of the underlying condition difficult. Diagnosis is now based largely on laboratory tests.

Arthritis

The word means simply 'inflammation of the joints', nothing more. It describes the symptoms, not the underlying condition or conditions. If you have pain and swelling of one or more joints you have arthritis, the word is no more sinister than that and there is no need for that reason alone to regard yourself as an invalid. Of the many different kinds of arthritis, some are evenly distributed; others are more common in women, for instance, rheumatoid arthritis.

The most common type of all is osteoarthritis. Most books and articles call it 'degenerative' and say it is due to overwork, injury or strain upon the affected joints. True and false. There is no doubt that minor injury can make arthritis worse or bring it on earlier. More nearly the truth is that many different disease processes are lumped together under the name "osteoarthritis" and that in many cases there is an active inflammatory process at work based upon self-reactivity by the immune system, liable to get worse as we grow older because the immune system accumulates errors over time.

If you are worried about your arthritis, 21st Century Clinics offer full evaluation including studies of the immune system and inflammatory network.

We then proceed to arrange treatment for you. This may include exercise (because maintaining muscle strength and maximum range of joint movement is valuable), or the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, or may be directed at repair, or may involve sophisticated methods of modifying the self-reactivity which caused the damage in the first place. We use "Alternative" and "Complementary" treatments where these are known to work.