Our body is a machine, joined with various types of joints, like hinge joints at elbows and knees, ball and socket joint at shoulders and hip joint,etc. These joint are classified differently on the basis of its structure, function and anatomy. Irrespective of all these details, we know that any machine needs maintenance, to keep it working. so does our body; but do we really take care of this God gifted machine? or just toil it as per our convenience. Here, in this article we’ll take a brief insight of Joint disorders and how to keep them in best of their health. For a joint to be strong, it is not only the joint which needs to be taken care of, but also the bones involved in the joint, the surrounding muscles, cartilages, and the lubricant (synovial fluid) which facilitates the movement of the joint.
Ayurveda explains that any joint disorder or pain in joints is the result of aggravated vata dosha. Joint disorder involving inflammation of one or more joints together is termed as Arthritis or Sandhigat vata. Ayurveda grossly classifies Arthritis into two categories, based on type of its etiology – i) Dhatukshayjanya Sandhigat vata (degenerative type) i.e. Osteoarthritis and ii) Margavrodhjanya (due to accumulation of Saam dosha) or Aamvata i.e. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Both these types present with different symptoms and so does the treatment differ.
Causes Of Osteoarthritis : In Dhatukshayjanya sandhivat wear and tear occurs at the joint, due to vitiated vata dosha. Vata dosha has its predominance in the body during old age, end of the day, rainy season, individual with vata prakriti, etc. Apart from these natural conditions; vata is aggravated due to improper diet, vigorous exercise, over exertion, over indulgence of sex, trauma, exposure to cold or over intake of cold foods, lack of sleep, suppression of natural urges, emotional factors like stress and depression.
- The increased vata, due to its rooksha(dry) property dries up the synovial fluid, which provides lubrication; this results in friction between the bone surfaces & causes severe pain; as in case of knee and hand joints.
- Sometimes excessive weight exerts mechanical stress on weight bearing joints (knees) and degeneration occurs. At times due to excessive degeneration the bone surfaces also develop small pointed spurs known as osteophytes, which worsens the pain.
- At times, lack of nourishment to the bone tissue, due to improper diet and lifestyle results in osteoporosis, and weakening of bones and thus joint pain.
- Repetitive trauma vitiates vata dosha and leads to weakening of bones & joint leading to painful joints.
- The osteophyte formation at vertebral bones exerts pressure on the spinal nerves and presents as backache, lower backache, neck pain with or without numbness or tingling sensation.
- Pain : In case of degenerative type of arthritis, pain usually occurs in the latter period of the day or after frequent joint movements, only in severe cases pain may be continuous even at rest.
- Restricted joint movements : Excessive degeneration and pain can result in restricted movements.
- Swelling : Swelling is not always present, but repetitive use of joint, inflammation can cause swelling which recedes on rest.
- Crackling sound at joints.
- Difficulty in climbing steps, squatting or sitting down on the floor.
- Snehan (oleation) : a) Snehan pacifies vata dosha and thus pain. Snehan literally means internal and external use of sneha i.e. oil, ghee, butter etc. Application of sesame oil or medicated oil like bala oil or mahanarayan oil on all the joints, reduces pain and swelling, on regular use it also facilitates joint movement. b) Include ghee, milk, butter in your diet. Medicated ghee can be taken on doctor’s advice.
- Swedan (Sudation) : Hot fomentation with medicated steam, or immersing painful part in hot water, etc. sudation should always be followed by massage with oils.
- Take timely meals and easy digestible foods and vegetables like, bottle gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, drum sticks.
- Eat foods which will strengthen the bones, muscles and cartilages involved in joint.
- Fresh cooked and hot food should be consumed in regular diet. Hot soups of lentils, pulses and meat should be taken with powder of ginger, garlic, black pepper. Use cumin, coriander, ginger, asafoetida, garlic, fennel and turmeric in food preparation.
- Dates soaked in cows ghee, figs are good sources for bone nourishment.
- Avoid oily, spicy, fermented ,junk and canned foods.
- Moderate exercise like leisure walking, can be done regularly, to avoid stiffness of joints.
- Avoid exerting strain on joints, this can cause further damage to degenerated bones.
- Avoid exposure to cold conditions, or intake of cold water, aerated drinks, ice creams, etc.
- Avoid Vata aggravating foods like uncooked sprouts, excess beans, spinach, chick peas, kidney beans, potatoes, cluster beans, etc.
- Medicines like Dashmoolarishtha, rasnadi kwath mixed with water pacifies vata and reduces pain.
- Tablets like Yograj guggul, gokshuradi guggul, asthiposhak vati, etc can be taken according to symptoms, under consultation of Ayurvedic physician only.
- Bowels should be emptied regularly to prevent aggravation of vata. 1 tsp Castor oil taken with warm milk before meals relieves constipation and also pacifies vata. Tab.Gandharva Haritaki, sukhsarak vati can be taken as per prevailing conditions.
- Panchakarma therapies like Virechan or Basti should be done whenever required, and Basti should be done in every monsoon to maintain equilibrium state of vata.
- Other therapies like Abhyanga,tikta ksheer basti, pinda sweda, kati basti, manya basti, janu basti, nasya proves helpful in osteo arthritis.
All these procedures and treatment should be done only under guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner. Lastly early diagnosis and treatment is the key to control Sandhivata or osteoarthritis.