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The Agony of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Cure with Ayurveda

Dr. Charminder Kaur

The pain that rheumatoid arthritis causes is immense which the patients suffering from this agonising discase can only feel. Ayurveda offers remedial measures for relief from the pain caused by this disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.

In Ayurveda it has been described as Aamvata, which means joint disorders caused by Aam-toxins. The toxins vitiate Vata Dosha, which in turn affects various joints.

Age and S*x Occurrence

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs in all races and ethnic groups. Although the disease often begins in middle age and occurs with increased frequency in older people, children and young adults also develop it. Like some other forms of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis occurs much more frequently in women than in men. About two to three times as many women as men have the disease.

Causes of aamvata are: irregular diet habits, consumption of excessive oily food, excessive exercise or a complete sedentary life style.

Etiopathology

Due to the above factors and consumption of unhygienic food the Jatharagni (the digestive power) becomes weak. The undigested food keeps on collecting within the system and becomes toxic. These toxins traverse through the circulatory system within the whole body with the help of Vata and lodge into the joints to make them stiff, inflamed, rigid and less mobile.

A joint is a place where two bones meet. The ends of the bones are covered by cartilage, which allows for easy movement of the two bones. A capsule that protects and supports it surrounds the joint. The joint capsule is lined with a type of tissue called synovium, which produces synovial fluid, a clear substance that lubricates and nourishes the cartilage and bones inside the joint capsule.

Like many other rheumatic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease (auto means self), so-called because a person’s immune system, which normally helps protect the body from infection and disease, attacks joint tissues for unknown reasons. White blood cells, the agents of the immune system, travel to the synovium and cause inflammation (synovitis), characterized by warmth, redness, swelling, and pain — typical symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. During the inflammation process, the normally thin synovium becomes thick and makes the joint swollen and puffy to the touch.

As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, the inflamed synovium invades and destroys the cartilage and bone within the joint. The surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support and stabilize the joint become weak and unable to work normally. These effects lead to the pain and joint damage often seen in rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers studying rheumatoid arthritis now believe that it begins to damage bones during the first year or two that a person has the disease, one reason why early diagnosis and treatment are so important.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Restriction of joint movements
  • Morning stiffness
  • Crackling of joints
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Increased local heat and tenderness
  • Involvement of bisymmetrical joint
  • Shifting of pain from one side to another
  • Fever
  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Rheumatoid nodules are painless, hard, round or oval masses that appear under the skin, usually on pressure points, such as the elbow or Achilles tendon. These are present in about 20% of cases and tend to reflect more severe disease.

Joints Involved

Predominantly joints of hands, feet, ankles, elbows, cervical spine etc. are affected. The diagnostic feature of the disease is piercing pain in the joints and involvement of two or more joints at a time. The pain and inflammation shift from one joint to another.

Anorexia, bodyache, lethargy etc., are also observed in severe cases.

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination: This includes the doctor’s examination of the joints, skin, reflexes, and muscle strength.
  • Laboratory tests: One common test is for rheumatoid factor, an antibody that is present eventually in the blood of most people with rheumatoid arthritis. (An antibody is a special protein made by the immune system that normally helps fight foreign substances in the body.) Not all people with rheumatoid arthritis test positive for rheumatoid factor, however, especially early in the disease. Also, some people test positive for rheumatoid factor, yet never develop the disease. Other common laboratory tests include a white blood cell count, a blood test for anemia, and a test of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (often called the sed rate), which measures inflammation in the body. C-reactive protein is another common test that measures disease activity.
  • X rays: X rays are used to determine the degree of joint destruction. They are not useful in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis before bone damage is evident, but they can be used later to monitor the progression of the disease.

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