Joint pains are a very common condition that hampers the daily routine of a person. It is to be noted that the pain in the joints is not always due to the same reason. The most common disease conditions that have joint pain as symptoms are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gouty arthritis. These can be differentiated with the help of blood tests, X-rays and observation of the aggravating factors. The nature of pain, the aggravating factors, and treatment differ according to the disease condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that can be identified by the presence of the Rh factor in the blood. The symptoms include joint pain, swelling, inflammation, morning stiffness etc. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder most common in elderly individuals in whom bone degeneration and drying up of lubricant in between the joints have occurred. It can be seen on an X-ray. Gouty arthritis on the other hand is due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints due to its improper excretion or increased production.
These crystals mostly accumulate in the lowermost joints, i.e., the great toe and thus gouty arthritis mostly appears first on the great toe joints. The excruciating pain in the joints is associated with redness, inflammation, and swelling. It can be confirmed with a blood test for uric acid levels in the blood. Thus for proper treatment, it is necessary to identify the cause of pain correctly. OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Lakshmi Varma K [BAMS, MD(Ayu)] Specialist Medical officer, Ayush Gramam Project, Kottayam, one of the expert panel of doctors for LYEF Wellness, to know about the ayurvedic remedies to manage joint pain.
Ayurvedic concept of joint pain
Dr. Varma said, "As per the basic principles of Ayurveda, all the functions of the body are maintained by three functional entities called the Tridosha viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The Vata dosha is responsible for the different types of movements, degeneration, and bone and musculoskeletal activities in the body and thus diseases that pertain to the musculoskeletal system with pain as a prominent symptom are grouped under the heading of Vata vyadhi."
Also read: 10 Home Remedies for Arthritis & Joint Pain
"Ayurveda also says that most joint pains are caused due to three main types of vatavyadhi. They are called Amavata (Rheumatoid arthritis), Sandhivata (Osteoarthritis), and Vatarakta (Gouty arthritis) in classics. Amavata is caused due to improper metabolism, which leads to the accumulation of morbid matter (Ama) in the body which blocks the path of Vata causing pain and swelling. Sandhivata is a purely degenerative condition where the vata increase causes pain and vatarakta is a disease which involves the vitiation of both Vata and blood (rakta). These conditions each have different modes of treatment," she further added.
Treatment of Joint pain in Ayurveda
It is a common conception that all joint pains can be reduced by the application of medicated oils. Even though it is true for most cases, especially in the case of degenerative conditions like the sandhivata, in situations like Amavata with swelling, the application of oil will only aggravate the pain. In such conditions application of medicated pastes on the affected joints is advised. This helps bring down the swelling and reduce pain. Again, in amavata and vatarakta it is also essential to combine the external applications with proper internal medications to reduce the ama accumulation and purify the blood in the respective conditions.
Internal medicines used for treating joint pains are mostly made with herbs such as Eranda (castor), Bala (flannel weed), Triphala, Shunthi (Ginger), Rasna (lesser galanga), Guduchi (heart leaved moonseed), Kokilaksha (marsh barbel) etc. A common factor that aggravates all types of pain is a cold climate. Thus keeping the limb warm with socks or gloves, a hot water bath, warm paste application etc. are very beneficial. For the best result, it is necessary that the person consult a doctor for proper differential diagnosis and treatment advice.