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Understanding The Link Between Arthritis and Stomach Problems


Recently, a team of investigators discovered that presence of specific species of gut bacteria is responsible for an exhibition of rheumatoid arthritis. While exploring a link between arthritis and stomach problems, scientists were trying to figure out the potential role of these bacteria with autoimmunity.


ArthritisWith billions of people suffering from around the corner of the world, rheumatoid arthritis is identified to one of the most common forms of arthritis, characterized with pain, inflammation, stiffness, and loss of movement in joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is confirmed to be an autoimmune disease, wherein irregularity in our own immune system mistakenly identifies our joints as nonself and attack on them; leading to their early destruction.

Although the exact cause of concern is still not explored so far, experts are linking it to be a genetic inheritance, environmental triggers like smoking, diet, and stress. In this regard, a team of scientists has recently confirmed a connection between Rheumatoid arthritis and stomach bloating through clinical evidence.

Prevalence of arthritis in developed countries

stomach-issueSince, the last couple of years, an estimated 55 million people are daily being diagnosed with arthritis only in the US. And in totality, almost 28% people are suffering from an autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis.

Moreover, by the end of the year 2040, almost 80 million US adults aging 18 years or more are estimated to be suffering from doctor-diagnosed arthritis. While unlocking the key towards definitive arthritis treatment, scientists could recently link between arthritis and stomach problems.

Finding the link between arthritis and stomach problems

Finding the link between arthritis and stomach problemsIn a report published in Science Daily, researchers have the opinion a particular species of intestinal bacteria named Prevotella copri could be linked with the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. This is the first demonstration that chronic inflammatory joint problems can be initiated partly by specific intestinal bacteria.

This was first observed by the laboratory scientists and researchers of NYU School of Medicine. It added to the rising evidence that trillions of microbes present in our body have a great role in maintaining our health.

The same observation was confirmed in another National Institute of Heath funded research. That gut bacteria can be so important for human health is a radical thinking. But it is gaining acceptance recently. For example, reactive arthritis, a severe form of arthritis linked to genetics can be triggered by infection.

This gene can stay with you all throughout your life without causing any problem. But if you get any infection, this can trigger inflammatory response where you will be left with a life-long arthritic condition.

Digestive issues lead to arthritis

stomach-issueThe studies have clarified that the presence of microbiome in the gut or other parts of the body can influence the regulation of our body’s immune system. These microbiomes are estimated to be present in the ration of 1/10th of the total number of cells in the digestive tract. The presence of variable species of these microbiomes can have both positive as well as negative health impacts on a person.

Recently, experts conducted a small-scale clinical study in order to identify how they are associated with arthritis and further confirmed the link between arthritis and stomach problems. Almost 114 stool samples were extracted from patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, upon DNA analysis of the samples, a type of gut bacteria were identified through confirmation of the presence of bacteria specific gene in all the samples.

Upon analysis, it was further confirmed that almost 75% of people diagnosed with the recent onset of rheumatoid arthritis had the presence of bacterium P. copriin their intestine. The similar bacteria species had been typed in 12% chronic, rheumatoid arthritis patients and 38% of patients with psoriatic arthritis. The study also further confirmed that the presence of these particular bad bacteria is the reason for the reduction of good bacteria proportion from the gut.

Thus, the clinical investigation could successfully confirm the casual link between arthritis and stomach problems, associated with reduced good bacteria.

Symptoms of GI problems and RA

stomach-issueAnother study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology Research and Practice conducted with 284 people suffering from RA and 233 control subjects proved that people with RA exhibit more GI related manifestations, such as stomach pain, bloating, nausea, etc. Some of the GI problems expressed by the subjects, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are noted herewith:

  • Presence of ulcer, colitis or stomach perforation, either in a small or large intestine.
  • Swelling of the esophagus and/or swallowing tube
  • Infection associated with either small or large intestine

These problems reported by RA patients confirmed the link between arthritis and stomach problems exhibited symptoms mentioned herewith:

  • Trouble in swallowing food or water
  • Burning sensation in the heart
  • Unusual abdominal pain
  • Indigestion, vomiting sensation
  • Upper GI bleeding can involve the release of black, tarry stool
  • Constipation
  • Stool leakage

Factors that might possibly link between arthritis and stomach problems

ArthritisDoctors suggest that some of the GI problems can be due to consumption of certain steroidal medications, prescribed for RA associated with pain management. These medications are specifically pinpointed as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids.

As mentioned earlier, studies have confirmed the presence of harmful bacteria in the gut lining to be responsible for de-regulation in the immune system causing autoimmunity and thereby be associated with the exhibition of rheumatoid arthritis. However, more research is in demand to confirm the casual hypothesis of digestive issues associated with RA.

How can you minimize GI issues?

Vegetarian dietExperts have also pinpointed on the association of food allergies with RA and hence are more likely to induce stomach problems. It has further been suggested that no diet can completely cure RA but can definitely help you to reduce flare-ups associated with the same. Here’s how it works:

  • Include a lot of fiber in your diet, which can be obtained from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Fiber can help reduce inflammation and can be helpful in effective pain management.
  • Protein can be obtained from low-fat sources, such as lean meat or fat-free dairy products. Proteins obtained from good sources can be helpful in reduction of chemical secretions that can induce inflammatory immune responses.
  • Omega 3 fatty acid, an essential fatty acid that can be obtained from fish liver oil or cod liver oil is found to be responsible for preventing as well as minimizing inflammation causing RA.
  • Olive oil is highly advised to be used for preparing salad dressings as it can reduce inflammation associated with RA to a great extent.

Patients suffering from RA or for that matter, any arthritis-related conditions are advised to get sufficient amount of vitamin D; if not from direct sunlight then at least through food or supplements.

Thus, since researchers could confirm the link between arthritis and stomach problems, studies have further suggested that through maintenance of healthy, nutritious diet, and routine exercise schedule, one can seriously be in charge of effective pain management in RA and GI problems.

Key takeaways

Studies have confirmed the link between arthritis and stomach problems

Causes of digestive issues to arthritis may be associated with consumption of steroidal medications, offered for effective RA related pain management

If experienced any of the GI symptoms noted herewith, immediate medical attention is advised.

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