A joint is the connection of two or more bones which provides the flexibility to our body. It is a complex structure containing smooth tissues called cartilages and sinovium and a lubricant called synovial fluid which allows bones to glide over one another. These structures prevent the bones from rubbing against each other to allow free movement.
But as the age advances or due to injury, wear and tear occurs in the joints. The damage of these tissues may lead to Arthritis.
Types of Arthritis
There are different types of arthritis, but generally referred to pain and inflammation of joints. General symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness and reduced range of motion. Arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to perform daily activities and difficulty in walking or climbing stairs. It may even result in permanent deformity of joints.
Osteoarthritis: the most common type of arthritis which is seen mostly in older population. It is caused by the wear and tear of cartilages covering the bones. This causes rubbing of bones against each other to cause pain swelling and stiffness.
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Rheumatoid arthritis: It is an auto immune disease where our immune system interferes with the tissues of joints. This causes inflammation, pain and loss of function of joints. The auto immune factor may cause disability in other organ systems as well. The early detection and treatment is very essential in rheumatoid arthritis.
Gout: It is a form of arthritis where Uric acid crystals build up in the joints to form needle like structures. This cause pain in these joints, it can become chronic if left unchecked.
Infectious arthritis: A bacterium, virus or a fungus can trigger an infection in a joint leading to pain and inflammation. This type of arthritis can be managed by timely treatment but may become chronic if left untreated.
Ayurvedic approach to Arthritis
Ayurvedic view of arthritis is not limited to a joint ailment. It is the manifestation of imbalance in the body; nutrition is not reaching the bones through various stages or accumulation of toxins. Arthritis is mainly caused by the imbalance of Vata Dosha itself or along with one or both other doshas. Symptoms like inflammation, redness, pain and mobility would vary according to the doshas involved in the disease. The physician identifies these conditions to derive their treatment protocol.
Agni or the digestive fire is another major factor in Arthritis. Improper digestion causes toxins called Ama that may be deposited in various joints to manifest symptoms. Hence correction of the digestive functions is an important part of arthritis treatment.
Herbs to manage Arthritis
Ayurvedic texts mention various herbs and their formulation to manage arthritis. Some of them are mentioned here
Boswellia serrata: the herb is proved to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which can relieve symptoms of arthritis.
Commiphora mukul : Reduces the inflammation of the joints and prevents progress of arthritis.
Alpenia galangal: It is a well known drug for treating Arthritis and joint disorders in Ayurveda. It is known to strengthen the joints and reduce arthritic pain.
Combination of herbs to correct digestive functions and improving bioavailability of herbs are provided as a part of arthritic treatment. The most common herb is Zingiber officinalis, which not only is a digestive but a good analgesic.
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