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Arthritis: An ayurveda prespective

Dr. Imlikumba, Health Naturally Clinic, Mercy Building: Kevijau colony, Dimapur: Nagaland, +91
Published on 17 Oct. 2017 7:59 PM IST
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(Pain can change you but never let it define you)

Arthritis is a word taken from greek and literally means ‘Joint-Inflammation’. This inflammation can affect one or more joints depending on the type of arthritis and the chronicity or severity of the condition. 
The most common complaint when it comes to arthritis is pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. This can be the fingers, the hands, the toes, the feet, the ankles, knees, wrists, shoulders, hips, spin anywhere. 
And it doesn’t have to be ‘full blown’ arthritis before we start to experience this sort of discomfort. 
Often pain or stiffness can be mild to begin with and most of us tend to overlook it, push it to the back of our minds or put it down to over exercising, age or normal wear and tear. 
There are many types of arthritis (over 100 identified, and the number is growing). 
The types of arthritis range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system some of the common arthritis are explained below:
a) Ankylosing spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) mainly affects the spine. Pain and stiffness are the primary symptoms and the condition can lead to the bones of the joints being fused together.
The common symptoms of Anylosing Spondylitis are:
• Chronic pain and stiffness in the lower back, buttocks and hips (usually develops slowly over several weeks or months)
• Pain and stiffness that worsens during periods of rest or inactivity and improves with movement and exercise
• Back pain during the night or early morning
• Feeling very stiff in the morning
b)Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic and widespread musculoskeletal pain syndrome, the hallmarks of which are tenderness, amplified pain, and severe fatigue. Unlike arthritis, the pain is not typically related to inflammation.
The common symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
• Widespread pain. 
• Fatigue
• Cognitive difficulties
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Migraine and other types of headaches
• Temporo-Mandibular joint disorders
c)Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa is not a type of arthritis, rather it shares similar symptoms and may cause arthritis in some cases.
The common symptoms of bursitis are:
• Disabling joint pain
• Sudden inability to move a joint
• Excessive swelling, redness, bruising or a rash in the affected area
• Sharp or shooting pain, especially when you exercise or exert yourself
d)Gouty arthritis: Gout is an often painful type of inflammatory arthritis caused by a build up of uric acid in a joint. Gout commonly affects the big toe, though other joints in the foot, knee, elbow, wrist, and fingertips can become painful as a result of gout.
The common symptoms of bursitis are:
• Intense joint pain
• Lingering discomfort
• Inflammation and redness
• Limited range of motion 
e) Juvenile arthritis: Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term that encompasses over 100 different childhood inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), Kawasaki disease, and juvenile fibromyalgia.
The common symptoms of Juvenile arthritis are:
• Pain & Swelling can affect one joint or many. In some cases, it effects the entire body — causing swollen lymph nodes, rashes and fever.
• Stiffness.  
f)Osteoarthritis: This type of degenerative arthritis is so common; many people referring to "arthritis" mean just osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the break-down of cartilage in a joint from aging or repetitive movements.
The common symptoms of Osteoarthritis are
• Pain
• Tenderness
• Stiffness
• Loss of flexibility
• Grating sensation
• Bone spurs
g) Pseudogout (CPPD): Pseudogout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when calcium pyrophosphate crystals accumulate in a joint. Pseudogout can affect any joint in the body, but is found most commonly in the knee.
The common symptoms of Pseudogout are:
• Swollen
• Warm
• Severely painful
h)Psoriatic arthritis: Psoriatic Arthritis is a condition where psoriasis of the skin is linked to joint inflammation, commonly in the outmost joints of the extremities. Skin symptoms generally present before joint problems are detected.
The common symptoms of Psoriatic Arthritis are:
• Swollen fingers and toes. 
• Foot pain. 
• Lower back pain.  
i)Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the synovial fluid in the joints, leading to stiffness, pain, and possibly deformities in the affected joints.
The common symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis are:
• Tender, warm, swollen joints
• Joint stiffness that is usually worse in the mornings and after inactivity
• Fatigue, fever and weight loss
Treatment according to conventional medicine: There is no known cure for any form of arthritis and treatment is aimed at minimizing symptoms or modifying the disease process. 
This is usually done using pain killers and NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), cortisone (steroids) orally or as injections and in the case of rheumatoid arthritis, DMARDS (Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs). DMARDS are drugs that are used alone or in combination to try and prevent degenerative tissue changes; they include Methotrexate, Sulphasalazine and Hydroxychloroquine. 
Apart from pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, weight control and exercise may be recommended depending on the type of arthritis.
Treatment acc. to ayurveda medicine: This is where Ayurveda and Western Medicine differ dramatically. If the condition is particularly chronic or severe, Ayurvedic treatments can greatly reduce its debilitating effects or help prevent it from getting any worse. 
If it is medium level chronicity, Ayurveda can help to reverse the disease process, leading to a state of remission. In many cases, Ayurveda can actually offer a cure. Because the disease process is very well understood, treatments can be applied that effect change at the root cause of the disease. By following a special diet that allows the digestive fire to become stronger and the body to begin eliminating excess toxins. 
In fact, vast improvements can be made in terms of inflammation, pain, swelling and stiffness just by diligently following the correct diet. Along with a well structured approach to diet, home remedies can also be very helpful, especially if the condition is not chronic or severe. 
Castor oil (1 tsp taken before bed with ginger tea), fenugreek (½ tsp of powder in warm water before breakfast) and turmeric (1 tsp twice daily) are common household items and can be very effective when taken consistently and in the correct way. 
Ayurvedic body therapies such as Pinda Sweda also help enormously with the reduction of swelling, pain and inflammation. But for the best possible results, Ayurveda’s unique deep cleansing and rejuvenation process known as Panchakarma is essential. 
Panchakarma (which means Five-Actions) will remove Ama and imbalanced Doshas from deep in the tissues enabling progress to be made in a much shorter period of time and enormously reducing the likelihood of any relapse. 
From an Ayurvedic point of view these forms of arthritis build in the body for a long time before they become fully noticeable as ‘Arthritis’. 
They are therefore considered chronic diseases and are usually well established in the body by the time any treatment for them is sought. As with any chronic disease, two of the most important medicines are patience and persistence. 
Sticking with a line of treatment over a prolonged period of time (sometimes up to 2 years) is necessary but the results are well worth it. 
But the best medicine for all of us is that of prevention - following a way of life that supports strong Agni, reduced Ama and balanced Dosha and seeking help from an Ayurvedic Practitioner when joint pain is still in its earliest stages.
NOTE: Ayurvedic medicines and treatments should be taken under Qualified Ayurvedic Doctor/Physician. The drugs described in this article are for general information/educational purpose only. Anyone should not use these without consulting a qualified Ayurveda doctor/physician.

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