What is joint pain?
Is your long term joint pain condition making your life troublesome? Do you feel frustrated using conventional therapies that tend to provide just temporary relief with not much benefit? Well, there are various alternative therapies such as Ayurveda cure for joint pain that poses minimal risks and provides natural joint pain relief with maximum benefit to the patient in fighting chronic joint pain condition.
Joint pain may be discomfort, pain or inflammation arising out of any portion of a joint — such as cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Most commonly, however, joint pain means arthritis or arthralgia, which is pain or inflammation from inside the joint itself.
Joint pain may be mild, causing discomfort only after particular actions, or it may be severe, making limited motion, especially bearing weight, extremely debilitating. Arthritis is the most common cause for joint pain while some other conditions that contribute to joint pain may include lupus, gout, hepatitis chondromalacia, bursitis, or inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints breakdown of the cartilage in the kneecap, injury, tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon, an infection of the bone or joint, overuse of a joint, cancer, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, sarcoidosis, and rickets.
The current pharmacological management of joint pain includes the administration of analgesics and Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), but their use neither provides adequate pain relief nor deceleration in the disease process. As a result, the use of alternative therapies like Ayurvedic medicine for joint pain are on the rise.
How does Ayurveda view joint pain?
According to Ayurveda, there are two types of joint pain causes.
– The first one begins when the dry, fast-moving Vata dosha goes out of equilibrium. This dosha is the mind-body operator that governs the flow and nerve impulses. The imbalance in Vata dosha may lead to indigestion and lack of circulation.
– The second sort of joint problem begins when digestive impurities (ama) and the thick, cold Kapha dosha begin collecting in the joints. As this dosha governs lubrication and structure in the body, the joints get affected with these impurities, leading to joint pain.
The Ayurvedic view for joint pain arises due to an imbalance in Vyana Vata (regulates blood flow, sense of touch, heart rhythm, perspiration). Aggravated Vata is most often attributed to improper diet, unfavorable lifestyle, aging processes, trauma, and constitutional predispositions. Joint pain is a collection of various other symptoms like pain in the knee joint (sandhi-shula), coarseness (kharatva) into the joints, lightness (laghutva), swelling (shotha), porosity (saushirya), stiffness (stabdhata), crepitus (atopa) and diminished flexibility all of which arises due to the drying effect on Shleshaka Kapha (which governs lubrication of all joints) and weakened circulation in the joints.
Toxic overload in the joints can also cause joint pain, which causes accumulation of inflammatory mediators (Ama) leading to the stiffness in the joint and making it heavy causing great pain and difficulties in performing proper functions of the knee joint.
How does Ayurveda treat joint pain?
Ayurvedic treatment for joint pain recommends a holistic treatment approach with minimal side effects that suits almost everyone. Ayurvedic treatment for joint pain includes herbal medicines and therapies for addressing degenerative joint conditions and strengthening the joints.
Ayurveda aims to cure the disease of its roots and advocates various treatment strategies like dietary modifications which include consuming very light food along with warm fluids and rest, enhancing liver function through the administration of herbal decoctions that help the liver to metabolize and eliminate the toxins. In most advanced conditions panchakarma treatment helps purge your body out of toxic materials left by disease, poor nutrition, and environmental toxins.
Joint pain cure with Ayurveda
Some ayurvedic therapies that are found to be very effective for treating inflammatory conditions that are seen in joint pain and arthritis include Abhyanga ( Oil massage), Dhanyamladhara (Pouring of warm fermented liquid), Ilakkaizhi (Herbal leaf massage) and Podikkizhi (Herbal powder massage). Therapies like Tailadhara, Nhavarakkizhi , Ksheera vasthi are among the most effective therapies for preventing degeneration and strengthening the joints.
Tailadhara (pouring of medicated oils)- Pouring a stream of medicated ayurvedic oil for joint pain, on the body and the affected area, and simultaneously massaging it can provide complete pain relief in conditions like joint pain, stiffness, and spondylitis.
Nhavarakkizhi – A highly effective therapy that includes massaging of the body with a bolus of rice boiled in medicated milk. It helps reduce pain by taming Vata, increases blood circulation, allays joint and muscle stiffness, eliminates toxins, and relaxes the body.
Ksheera vasthi- Medicated milk is allowed to flow in a continuous and constant stream over the forehead or at the starting of the glabellar region. It helps in the proper blood circulation, relaxation of the vata, lubricate the joints, relieves the stiffness and spasms of the muscles and joints.
Ayurveda also suggests the use of a number of herbs that have been found to possess potent anti-inflammatory action, some of them include Guggulu, curcumin, Withania somnifera.
Home remedies for joint pain
You can find natural joint pain relief through some easy home remedies also. Various symptoms of joint pain like redness, stiffness, pain, and inflammation can be controlled by following some of the most effective home remedies which include:
a) Improving flexibility through yoga and exercise
Joint pain can hurt even more due to the excessive body weight falling on your knees. Shedding those few extra pounds of weight will not only improve the flexibility of the joint but also relieve from the pressure that can cause pain
b) Dietary changes that have a great impact on joint pain.
Including Omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and vitamin D supplements into your diet, and excluding food allergens like wheat, gluten, dairy products can help reduce inflammation caused by joint pain, by regulating the immune system.
c) Exposing your skin to sunlight for just 15 minutes a day can help maintain the strength of the bones by maintaining the levels of Vitamin D in your body.
d) Regular massage of the muscles and joints with essential oils can also help relieve joint pain. One can also opt for hot and cold treatments.
Studies in Ayurvedic treatment for joint pain
1. First study: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study of efficacy and tolerability of Withania somnifera extracts in knee joint pain..
A total of Sixty patients suffering from knee joint pain and discomfort were included in the study. The patients were randomized in a double-blind manner to receive either W. somnifera 250 mg, W. somnifera 125 mg and placebo. The treatment was administered twice daily for 12 weeks. Parameters like Modified WOMAC, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Knee Swelling Index (KSI), were evaluated at baseline and at the end of 4, 8, 12 weeks.
The results showed significant reductions in mean mWOMAC and KSI in patients receiving W. somnifera 250 mg, W. somnifera 125 mg groups when compared to placebo and baseline treatment. VAS scores for pain, stiffness, and disability were also found to be significantly reduced in both the groups receiving W. somnifera 250 mg and 125 mg.
2. Comparative effectiveness of complex Ayurvedic treatment and conventional standard care in osteoarthritis of the knee–study protocol for a randomized controlled trial..
150 patients between 40 and 70 years, diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, were randomized into Ayurvedic and conventional treatment groups. The Ayurveda group received tailored treatment that included combinations of massages, manual treatments, nutritional supplements, yoga posture advice, dietary, and lifestyle advice, consideration of selected foods, and knee massage. Whereas, patients in the conventional group received pain medication, advice on self-care and losing weight if overweight and physiotherapy.
Both groups were administered 15 treatment sessions for a duration of over 12 weeks. Parameters like WOMAC index, a pain disability index, a visual analog scale for pain and sleep quality, a pain experience scale, a quality-of-life index, a profile of mood states, and Likert scales for patient satisfaction, patient diaries, and safety were evaluated after 6 and 12 weeks and 6 and 12 months.
Ayurvedic formulations have demonstrated its potential in alleviating not only the pain caused due to inflammation in the joint but also protect the overall tissue. Ayurvedic treatment helps improve the quality of life of the patient, by focusing on the central issue by diagnosing a broad spectrum of internal and external conditions, like physiological,lifestyle, food habits, metabolic, kinetic, excretory and mental functions, social and other factors, and then using complex treatment approaches to address a patient disease and provide treatment for root cause rather than treating just the symptoms.