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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Why did my symptoms virtually disappear on a holiday to Spain?

Q) I've had rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome for ten years. Can you tell me why my pain, stiffness and fatigue virtually disappeared on a recent holiday to Spain? It was wonderful and I’m told I looked completely different; certainly I felt a new woman. I'm not in a position to move abroad, so do you have any ideas how I can get even a little bit of that improvement in rather damp, humid Cambridgeshire?
Rosemary Breen, Saffron Waldon, Essex (Autumn 2007)

A) My patients with rheumatoid arthritis who spend a couple of weeks in Spain often say the same thing. This is, of course, grim Yorkshire, moors and satanic mills included, and not sedate Cambridge. There's scientific evidence that rheumatoid arthritis is less severe in Mediterranean countries, possibly due to dietary factors (more olive oil and fish for example). However, I think overwhelmingly it's the holiday and the 3 ‘s’s that count – sun, sand and sea. So, you could try changing your diet and practice pacing yourself and relaxation, but I can’t guarantee the same effect.

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