The word "arthritis" means "joint inflammation." It includes swelling, pain, and stiffness of joints. This inflammation that lasts a very long time or comes back, as in arthritis, can lead to tissue damage. The bones of your joints are covered with a smooth, spongy material called cartilage. It cushions the bones and allows the joint to move without pain.
The joint is lined by the synovium. The synovium's lining produces a slippery fluid -- called synovial fluid -- that nourishes and helps limit friction within. With arthritis, an area in or around a joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness, and sometimes, difficulty moving. Some types of arthritis also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs. It can happen to anyone, but it becomes more common as you age. About 1 in 5 adults has some form of arthritis.
One of the oldest records of the disease is a brief description in the Rigveda, which roughly dates back to 1500 B.C. In the 9th century A.D., Indian physician, Madhava wrote a full description of Aamavata.
The main pathogenic event in RA or Aamavata is the formation and deposition of Aama at all levels of body physiology including gastrointestinal and macro and micro channels of the inner transport system of the body.
According to Ayurveda each person is born with a unique “Prakriti” or body-mind type. This is based upon unique combination of three bio-principles called Doshas viz. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
People with predominant Vata or Kapha Prakriti and/or their disequilibrium are more likely to suffer from Aamavata/RA. Vata and Kapha Prakriti person is more likely to have decreased digestive-metabolic fire or Agni in the body, resulting in impaired digestion and absorption of food. This leads to formation of an immunogenic and toxic substance called Aama, which is the causative factor for inflammation.
Pitta Prakriti individuals have stronger Agni, but in some of them Agni may be very high and erratic or Vishama and therefore is not able to digest food well. Restoration of Agni and correction of imbalanced state is an important component of treatment strategy in Ayurveda.
Types of Arthritis
This is the most common type. It causes the cartilage on the ends of your bones to wear away. That makes the bones rub against each other. You might have pain in your fingers, knees, or hips. The cartilage breakdown, or degeneration, of osteoarthritis often happens with age. Risk is greater in those who are overweight, have legs of different lengths, or have jobs that result in high levels of joint stress. Osteoarthritis is believed to be caused by mechanical stress on the joint and low-grade inflammatory processes.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (known as Amavata in Ayurveda) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation and severe pain in the joints. It can also cause inflammation of the tissue around the joints, as well as in other organs in the body such as eyes, kidneys, heart and lungs. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are mistakenly attacked by their own immune system. Patients with autoimmune diseases such as Amavata have antibodies in their blood that target their own body tissues, where they can be associated with inflammation. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Amavata is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease.
Ayurvedic practitioners believe the following dietary habits may cause or worsen the symptoms of RA: drinking alcohol, eating spicy foods, taking in excess salt, consuming too many sour, sweet, or sugary foods, eating uncooked foods and eating foods that cause acid reflux.
Gout is a type of arthritis that involves sudden pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints. Nearly half of gout cases affect the big toes, while other cases affect the fingers, wrists, knees and heels. Gout symptoms or “attacks” occur when there is too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product made by the body when it digests certain foods. When uric acid levels are high, crystals of it can accumulate in your joints. This process triggers swelling, inflammation and intense pain. Gout attacks typically occur at night and last 3–10 days.
What Causes Arthritis?
The cause of many types of arthritis is unknown. There are several things that may raise your risk for arthritis, including:
Age: Over time, your joints tend to get worn down. That's why the risk of developing arthritis, especially osteoarthritis, goes up with age.
Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common among women, except for gout.
Genes: Certain types of arthritis run in families. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis, for example, are linked to certain genes.
Excess weight: Being overweight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing wear and tear and the risk of arthritis, especially osteoarthritis.
Injuries: They can cause joint damage that can bring on some types of the condition.
Infection: Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can infect joints and trigger inflammation.
Work: Some jobs that use repetitive movements or heavy lifting can stress the joints or cause an injury, which can lead to arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis. For example, if you need to do a lot of knee bends and squats at work, you might be more likely to get osteoarthritis.
Different types of arthritis have different symptoms that can vary in severity from person to person. Osteoarthritis does not generally cause any symptoms outside the joint. Symptoms of other types of arthritis may include fatigue, fever, a rash, and signs of joint inflammation, including: Pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness, warmth and joint deformity.
How to Diagnose Arthritis
Your doctor will check for swollen joints, tenderness, redness, warmth, or loss of motion in the joints.
Use imaging tests like X-rays. These can often tell what kind of arthritis you have. X-rays are used to diagnose osteoarthritis, often showing a loss of cartilage, bone spurs, and in severe cases, bone rubbing against bone.
Test your blood or urine. These tests can help tell your doctor what type of arthritis you have or rule out other diseases as the cause of your symptoms.
Blood tests for rheumatoid arthritis include one for antibodies called rheumatoid factors (RF), which most people with rheumatoid arthritis have in their blood, though RF may also be present in other disorders.
A newer test for rheumatoid arthritis that measures levels of antibodies in the blood (called the anti-CCP test) is more specific and tends to be higher only in people who have or who are about to get rheumatoid arthritis. The presence of anti-CCP antibodies can also be used to predict which people will get more severe rheumatoid arthritis.
The goal of treatment is to provide pain relief, increase joint mobility and strength, and control the disease as much as possible.
Treatment of arthritis could include rest, occupational or physical therapy, hot or cold compresses, joint protection, exercise, drugs, and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage. Your treatment plan may involve more than one of these.
Treatments for osteoarthritis generally can help relieve pain and stiffness, but the disease may continue to get worse. The same was true for rheumatoid arthritis in the past, but treatments are now able to slow or stop the progression of arthritis damage.
Avoid positions that strain your joints, use your strongest joints and muscles while sparing weaker ones, provide braces or supports to protect certain joints. Use grab bars in the bath, use modified doorknobs, canes, or walkers, use devices to help you with tasks such as opening jars or pulling up socks and zippers.
Arthritis Treatment: Medicine
Arthritis treatment in allopathy is mainly pain killers and steroids. If these medications taken for long will have side effects too. Side effects are more common with a higher dose and longer treatment. Side effects are much more common with oral drugs. Some side effects are more serious than others.
Common side effects of oral steroids include: Acne, Blurred vision, Cataracts or glaucoma, Easy bruising, Difficulty sleeping, High blood pressure, Increased appetite, weight gain, Increased growth of body hair, Insomnia, Lower resistance to infection, Muscle weakness, Nervousness, restlessness, Osteoporosis, Stomach irritation or bleeding, Sudden mood swings, Swollen, puffy face, Water retention, swelling, Worsening of diabetes.
Not everyone will develop side effects and side effects vary from person to person.
Alternative Medicine for Arthritis
One thing is sure that the damage already caused by arthritis is irreparable but Ayurveda help to slow down the process of further deterioration in all types of Arthritis. A change in life style and habits will certainly help in overcoming Arthritis. Ayurvedic medicine uses herbal compounds internally and externally for arthritis symptom relief. Topical curcumin may help relieve the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis; if taken in capsule form, it can reduce morning stiffness and boost endurance.
Our formulation Niroga is combination of herbs that is found helpful in slowing sown the process of arthritis and helps to normalize it.
In one study, a combination of Withania somnifera, Boswellia serrata, and Cucurma longa caused a significant drop in pain and disability for people with osteoarthritis.
Ayurveda treatment without deformity
During the onset of Amavata, treatment focuses on balancing vatadosha to restore flexibility and mobility, eliminating (ama) toxins to reduce the redness and inflammation and rejuvenating the asthi and majjadhatu to strengthen the bones and nervous system. In addition to herbal medicines, Panchakarma therapy is also administered for best results.
Ayurveda treatment with deformity
In the advanced stage where deformity has set in, all doshas become vitiated and ama is also present. Ayurveda can effectively improve the quality of life with the help of customized medicines, home remedies, and diet and lifestyle changes as well as specifically designed Panchakarma therapies to balance the doshas as well as to promote good blood circulation.
Food that effect Arthritis
Purines are one of the most common chemical compounds on the planet. There are two kinds of purines: endogenous and exogenous. Exogenous purines are absorbed by the body through the foods that you eat, whereas, endogenous purines are made directly by the body itself.
Uric acid forms when purines are broken down in the digestive system. Eating too many purines can cause a build-up of uric acid in the body. If uric acid remains in the body for too long, it can crystallize and cause a number of health risks. Therefore, it’s important to moderate the number of purines that you consume.
Why You Should Eat Less Purines
Your body successfully digests and expels most purines without difficulty; however, this isn't always the case. If your digestive system isn't able to fully process purines, or if you eat too many purines regularly, you may experience excess amounts of uric acid in your body. Researchers have found that high uric acid levels in the body are correlated with an increased risk of diabetes.
Too many purines in the body can cause uric acid in the kidneys to crystallize and harden, resulting in kidney stones. Serious cases of kidney stones can be quite painful and may even need surgical intervention to eliminate entirely.
For instance, a study including over 125,000 participants found that people who consumed the most fructose had a 62% higher risk of developing gout.
On the other hand, research shows that low-fat dairy products, soy products and vitamin C supplements may help prevent gout attacks by reducing blood uric acid levels.
Full-fat and high-fat dairy products don’t seem to affect uric acid levels.
Summary: Foods can either raise or lower your uric acid levels, depending on their purine content. However, fructose can raise your uric acid levels even though it is not purine-rich.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
Avoid — high-purine foods. These are foods that contain more than 200 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
You should also avoid high-fructose foods, as well as moderately-high-purine foods, which contain 150–200 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces. These may trigger a gout attack.
All organ meats: These include liver, kidneys, sweetbreads and brain. Game meats: Examples include pheasant, veal and venison
Fish: Herring, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, anchovies, haddock and more; Other seafood: Scallops, crab, shrimp and roe
Sugary beverages: Especially fruit juices and sugary sodas; Added sugars: Honey, agave nectar and high-fructose corn syrup
Yeasts: Nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast and other yeast supplements
Additionally, refined carbs like white bread, cakes and cookies should be avoided. Although they are not high in purines or fructose, they are low in nutrients and may raise your uric acid levels.
Summary: If you have gout, you should avoid foods like organ meats, game meats, fish and seafood, sugary beverages, refined carbs, added sugars and yeast.
What Foods Should You Eat?
Although a gout-friendly diet eliminates many foods, there are still plenty of low-purine foods you can enjoy. Foods are considered low-purine when they have less than 100 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Fruits: All fruits are generally fine for gout. Cherries may even help prevent attacks by lowering uric acid levels and reducing inflammation.
Vegetables: All vegetables are fine, including potatoes, peas, mushrooms, eggplants and dark green leafy vegetables.
Legumes: All legumes are fine, including lentils, beans, soybeans and tofu.
Nuts: All nuts and seeds.
Whole grains: These include oats, brown rice and barley.
Dairy products: All dairy is safe, but low-fat dairy appears to be especially beneficial.
Beverages: Coffee, tea and green tea.
Herbs and spices: All herbs and spices.
Plant-based oils: Including canola, coconut, olive and flax oils.