Often the most common reason for which a person approaches a doctor is due to pain. This is because as age progresses, the chances of wear and tear in the body are more. The most commonly noted conditions are joint pains. Recent reports quoted about one in four adults are experiencing joint pain, and the prevalence ranges from 22 to 39% in India. Surveys also report, the condition is observed more in women compared to men.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to a condition where swelling and tenderness occurs in one or more joints. The common symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motions that typically progress as ageing. Arthritis is mainly classified into two categories depending upon the symptoms – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Let’s understand in detail about Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect one or more joints. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means the body attacks its immune system. RA affects multiple joints and can cause damage to other systems, including the heart, blood vessels, skin, lungs, etc. Unlike the wear-and-tear that happens in osteoarthritis, RA attacks your joints’ lining, which leads to severe pain and swelling that results in bone erosion and joint deformity.
What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition that creates inflammation in the body. When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system sends inflammation to your healthy tissue by mistake. As a result, the immune system creates a lot of inflammation in the joints causing joint pain and swelling. If this persists for a long time, it causes damage to the joint, which is irreversible.
Risk factors involved in causing Rheumatoid Arthritis are –
- Your sex – Studies found that women are more likely to get affected with RA than men. This may be because the immune system is more robust and more reactive in women. Secondly, it appears that hormonal variations affect RA risk and flares up the condition.
- Age – RA can appear at any age but most commonly begins in middle age.
- Hereditary – Family history is another leading cause that increases the risk of the disease.
- Smoking – Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing RA, mainly if it runs in the family. Smoking also aggravates the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Overweight – People who have excess weight are more prone to suffer from the rheumatoid disease.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms –
- Tenderness in the joints, especially tiny joints
- Swelling in the joints
- Flexion deformity resulting in small spindle-shaped joints
- Stiffness in the joints, which worsens in the morning
- Fatigue even without doing any activity
- Heaviness in the whole body
- Anorexia or tasteless mouth
- Burning sensation in the body
- Occasional fever or rise of temperature in the affected joints
- Poor or loss of appetite
- The symptoms first occur in the smaller joints (fingers of hands and toes of feet) and tend to develop to bigger joints. As the disease progresses, symptoms often spread to wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips and shoulders.
How is rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of RA is based on a combination of tests. They are –
- Based on symptoms – stiffness in the small joints in the morning, which lasts more than one hour for a minimum of six weeks. Swelling of 3 or more joints persisting more than six weeks. Swelling occurs on both sides of the body.
- Changes in the X-ray pattern of the joints
- Occasionally, rheumatoid nodules are seen on the skin
- Blood tests indicating RA factor, Anti CCP, ANA and C-Reactive protein. Complete blood count helps the doctor to assess anaemia or infection in the blood.
Ayurvedic approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis
According to Ayurveda, Rheumatoid arthritis is correlated to Ama vata. Due to various etiological factors, the Ama (toxins) and Vata get vitiated and combine, travel through the body, and take their abode in the lower part of the spine, joints, stomach, chest, and heart. This further enters the circulatory system and results in the symptoms of Ama vata.
Ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid Arthritis at Sitaram Beach Retreat
The line of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis in Ayurveda includes –
- Laghanam: Laghanam is the first line of treatment told in classics. It is a procedure where the patient remains without taking food or with minimum and easily digestible foods like soups, barley water etc.
- Swedanam: In its acute stage, Ama vata is treated using rooksha swedana (dry fomentation) by using medicated powders and Valuka Sweda (bolus prepared from heated sand). This helps in quick relief from pain and inflammation.
- Deepana pachana: Since there is an involvement of ama (toxins), medicines that help to improve Agni and metabolism is prescribed.
- Sodhana Chikitsa: When the patient is prepared for the detox, medicines to remove the toxins are given. It helps to cleanse the body as well as provide relief from the symptoms. This includes Snigdha virechana (purgation), and special medicated vastis (enema)
- Shamana Chikitsa: After the shodhana karma, effective medications are prescribed to the patients depending on their health condition.
We customise the diet pattern considering the patient condition.
– Rakta shali (a variety of red rice), seeds of kodo, yava, kulatha (types of millets) are included in the diet
– Consumption of warm water or water processed with ginger
– Spices like garlic, ginger, pepper, cumin, coriander are included in the diet
– Fresh vegetables and fruits can be included in the diet. A few of them are varieties of cucumber, pumpkin, gourd vegetables etc. Fruit like grapes, citrus fruits, pineapple, dates, mango, berries are recommended. These are rich in antioxidants and quells inflammation.