Of the more than 100 types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is among the most potentially debilitating. More common among women, RA is an autoimmune disorder—the body’s own immune system attacks its tissue, especially in the small joints of the wrists and hands, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, deformity and loss of function.
Let’s begin with one of the biggest myths about arthritis: There are two kinds—osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Wrong!
We tend to think of osteoporosis as a disease of old age. And in most cases, it is. Osteoporosis, a condition in which bone mass diminishes and fractures become more likely, is most common in postmenopausal women. However, certain factors can put younger women at risk for this largely invisible disease.
Autoimmune diseases have many different symptoms and names, but what they all share is an overactive immune response of the body against some of its own cells, with the body treating them as an invading organism. Multiple Sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes and lupus are examples.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition for which there isn’t a cure. It can, however, be effectively managed. Dr. Laura Wagner, a dermatologist in Chesterfield, explains that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease caused by a disregulation of the immune system. A characteristic inflammation of the skin causes skin cells to turn over twice as fast as normal, creating scaly patches.
We’ve heard a lot about antioxidants and their beneficial effects on the body, but evidence on the potency of vitamin D is fast catching up. Dr. Theresa Knight, an OB-Gyn at Women’s Health Specialists of St. Louis, says D is technically not a vitamin because vitamins, by definition, are something we need to take in from our environment, and the body makes its own vitamin D. But she says doctors are seeing a lot more vitamin D deficiency in the general population. “One study in Boston showed that during the winter, 36 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 30 had deficiencies. In the summer that number was only 8 percent. So lack of sun exposure is a culprit,” Knight says. She adds that bowel disorders such as celiac and Crohn’s disease, as well as gastric bypasses for weight loss, all cause malabsorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. Liver and kidney disease also affect vitamin D levels.
Imagine a 3-year-old getting out of bed with legs so stiff their ankles and knees just don’t want to move. It’s easier to crawl for the first half-hour or so than it is to walk. As the day goes on, they may loosen up, run and play like any other child, but the next morning it happens all over again.
Our grandmothers were right. “Don’t get so upset,” they used to implore us. “You’ll worry yourself sick!” What Nana knew instinctively is now supported by scientific studies that show a powerful link between our emotions and our health. This link is known as the mind-body connection.
Like so many aspects of our busy lives, we tend to ignore our digestive system until we end up in a doctor’s office, queasy, bloated or doubled over in pain.
Gayathri Raman, M.D. Family Medicine Physician: Since joining the Clinic physicians six years ago, Raman has focused on women’s health care. My great interest is in treating thyroid and hormonal imbalances, especially with bio-identical hormones she has created for her by a compounding pharmacy that helps women feel good. I also want them to look good, so I offer innovative solutions in skin care. I have a line of physician-grade skin care products and do chemical peels and resurfacing with the new DermaSweep microdermabrasion system. Raman is also featured in regular health segments on Fox 2 News.
Psoriasis is a disease most commonly associated with rough, red, scaly patches of skin that appear on arms, legs and other body parts. And while these skin lesions present a problem, requiring treatment for thousands of people each year, new research suggests psoriasis may be far more serious than a simple skin disorder.