Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that can cause seniors a lot of pain.
It causes chronic inflammation and damages the linings that protect joints. Even with treatment, people who have RA still experience pain and other symptoms. A group of scientists recently looked into whether stimulating the vagus nerve might be useful in relieving symptoms of RA.
About the Study
The vagus nerve is quite long, running from the brain down into the neck, chest, and abdomen. The vagus nerve has an inflammatory response that causes the body to make fewer tumor necrosis factor molecules (TNF). TNF is involved in autoimmune disorders. In fact, some of the drugs used to treat RA are designed to block TNF. The researchers wanted to know if, by stimulating the vagus nerve, they could achieve the same, or perhaps a better, result as the drugs used for treating RA.
To test their theory, the scientists placed a neurostimulator in 14 participants with RA. Each of the participants had used at least two drugs for treating their RA symptoms but did not achieve the desired results. The participants were placed in one of three groups: a placebo group, a group that got vagus stimulation once daily, and a group that got stimulation four times each day. At the end of the three-month study, the scientists found that the people who received stimulation once a day had the best results.
Coping with RA
A single study isn’t enough to make treatment with a neurostimulator available to people with RA. However, it does offer hope for new ways of managing the symptoms of RA. Until new treatments are available, though, there are things older adults can do to better cope with the symptoms, such as:
- Heat, Cold, and Massage: Joints that are feeling stiff may respond to heat while those that are inflamed may improve with cold. Massage can also relieve pain.
- Move Often: Changing positions often can prevent joints from becoming stiff. So, when the older adult is doing something like cooking or a craft, they should get up and move or release their grip on knives, spoons, or tools. Also, while watching television, encourage them to get up and walk around the room a bit every half hour.
- Rest When Needed: When joints are painful or the senior is feeling fatigued, it’s a good idea for them to rest for a bit. Doing too much can increase inflammation and pain.
Senior care can be a great help to older adults with RA. A senior care provider can take care of household tasks, like cleaning, so that your aging relative can save their energy for activities they enjoy. Also, a senior care provider can remind them when it is time to take RA medicines or take a break to move around. Senior care providers can even provide emotional support and companionship that makes having a chronic condition easier and less stressful.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Home Care in West Palm Beach, FL, please contact the caring staff at MAZALTOV HOME CARE, LLC today at. (561) 465-5920