Rheumatoid arthritis

Series 2: Beth, 29

Case File Beth

Backstory:

Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in older people, but it can affect people of any age. Beth has had swollen joints since she was 14. Now 29, she has had to have both knees, both hips and an elbow replaced because of the damage the condition has done to her joints.

Her condition means she has to live with her parents as she can’t even button up her own clothes. Having rheumatoid arthritis severely impacts Beth’s social life – although her friends are supportive she worries about when to tell dates about it as there are so many things she can’t do.

Overview of the treatment:

The Food Hospital introduced Beth to an anti-inflammatory diet with fish oil supplements (omega-3). Omega-3 acts as an anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The diet, which Beth was advised to follow for 10-12 weeks, will also promote weight loss. Beth is overweight, which puts more strain on the affected joints and is also a contributing factor to inflammation. 

Shaw carried out a physical examination of Beth which involved pressing joints and feeling for swelling and tenderness. Imaging and blood tests were also used to assess inflammation and joint damage. Her ESR level, which is a blood test indicating inflammation in the body, was very high. Beth will be tested again after the 10-12 weeks to see what improvement can be seen.

Outcome:

• Beth lost weight on the diet, as well as introducing omega 3 supplements, which combined has helped her ESR level drop within normal range.

• There are no clinical changes yet, in pain or mobility, but that is expected as this diet is a long term management approach.

• Beth’s rheumatoid arthritis will continue to be difficult for her but if she continues to stick to the plan she should continue to see slight improvements in her condition.

Beth’s story was featured in Episode 1.