When I was twenty years old, I started experiencing cramping and pain in my hands and knees while I was at college. I went to the nurse to ask what might be going on since I had never experienced that before. She replied with a chuckle, “Oh, you just have a little rheumatism. Take some pain reliever.” Then she sent me out of the office. Rheumatism was for old people, in my young mind, and I wouldn’t accept it. A twenty year old shouldn’t be experiencing that. I was fearful, too, because my mother had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and I saw how that affected her. My grandmother also had it and she moved to Florida to minimize her symptoms. I guess the heat and humidity there are good for the joints. One of my sister’s good friends developed RA in her early twenties and because of the medication she was on, was advised not to have children. I had visions of being debilitated by the time I was thirty, and ending up with gnarled hands, a stooped posture, and unable to have a family. Pretty scary.

I didn’t know what to do about it at that time, being a poor college student focused on finishing her degree. I pretty much dealt with it until I graduated. I didn’t know about rheumatoid arthritis natural treatment strategies at that time and I was mostly just trying to get a job. The rheumatism would come and go, and wasn’t severely debilitating . . . yet. My mother’s RA was progressing, though. She was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia and the two diseases made every movement painful. So, after a few years of trying different conventional treatments, including gold tablets, and suffering a range of unpleasant side effects, she was willing to try something different.

My mother heard about a doctor who used a rheumatoid arthritis natural treatment regimen in helping his patients. He gave my mother a prescription for an anti-fungal medication and put her on a special diet. The diet was very similar to a candida diet. (Please read my other article to learn more about this diet). In a very short period of time, my mother saw dramatic improvement. She no longer felt pain in many of the fibromyalgia trigger points and felt better than she had felt in years. The pain in her joints was all but gone and her overall mood and vitality was great. However, my mother worked full time and she found the diet difficult to follow. My mother dislikes cooking and both of my parents value convenience over nutrition. So, even though she felt better, she wasn’t willing to follow the diet long term. She stopped seeing that doctor, stopped the recommended treatment regimen, and all of her symptoms returned. Today, my mother walks with a cane, suffers from constant facial pain, and experiences a range of other symptoms for which there are no treatment options, even in conventional medicine. I wish she had just made the effort to continue the diet.

My own story has a much happier ending. After I got my first job and had a steady paycheck, I started distance cycling. I was still troubled by occasional rheumatic pain, along with other issues (including intestinal, muscular, immune, menstrual, psychological, and general feelings of lethargy, which are discussed at length in my other articles). I went to see a chiropractor about pain in my neck that probably resulted from the extended periods of time hunched over my bicycle on the long rides I would take. These rides would be 50-100 miles per day, sometimes several days in a row. That didn’t include training rides, so it was no wonder that I ended up with pain in my neck. Anyway, my visit to see the chiropractor began a journey that ended up healing all my diseases, including the rheumatism. As with my mother, was and still is, the linchpin in keeping myself healthy. The first thing I did at that time was to address my allergies, which meant an elimination diet and then, a rotation diet. I eliminated all the foods I found that I was allergic to and then later, rotated foods that I wasn’t sensitive to so that I wouldn’t develop new allergies. What does this have to do with the rheumatic pain that I was having? Well, through this process, I discovered that my joint pain was associated with my wheat allergy. Whenever I would eat something with wheat in it, my knees and hands would hurt. When I thought I was healed of my allergies, I tried eating wheat again and the same thing happened. Now, I can’t even eat gluten free foods without my muscles hurting. A friend of mine at church revealed to me that she has fibromyalgia (same as me!) and that gluten containing foods make her muscles hurt, too. At least she can enjoy gluten-free cupcakes sometimes.

It saddens me that my mom didn’t stick with the recommended natural treatment strategy for her rheumatoid arthritis. She might’ve been a healthier woman now. It can be difficult to change lifelong habits and attitudes, but I think it is worth it to be able to live to my potential. I can give up bread and pasta so that I can live a full life. How about you? Are you willing to give up some favorites so that you can live passionately? Leave your comments below.

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