Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala for Arthritis
Arthritis, one of the most common causes of disability, has been emerging as a threat globally over the past few years. Affecting people irrespective of age, sex and geography, the impact of arthritis on people's lives and economic development is far more than what most of us realise. A leading cause for joint replacement surgeries, it is one such disease that progresses over time and makes daily life extremely difficult. In the absence of an assured cure in the western system of medicine, ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala spreads new light and is gaining popularity world wide. Kerala has some of the most eminent ayurvedic physicians and offers the best possible treatment for arthritis. The fact that arthritis treatment in Kerala can make a positive change both in the early and advanced stages of arthritis makes it an excellent option for those affected. The effectiveness of ayurvedic treatment, its non invasive nature, safety and lower cost attract people from all parts of the world to seek ayurvedic treatment in Kerala.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a broad term that signifies all types of joint inflammation. The word arthritis comes from 2 words, “arth”, meaning joint and “itis”, meaning inflammation. Commonly seen in adults above the age of 65, it can affect any age group, including children. Women are more affected than men, essentially because of the peculiarity in their genes, hormonal levels after menopause and laxity of joints compared to men. Arthritis can affect single or multiple joints and there are types of arthritis that affect other connective tissues, internal organs, immune system and organs including your skin. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis and SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) are, just to name a few, examples for such types. Correct diagnosis on the kind of arthritis you have and timely decision to undergo ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala could be a crucial turning point in your life
When should you consider ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala?
Symptoms of arthritis may vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Swelling associated with severe pain, stiffness and restricted movements of one or more joints are the most common symptoms seen in all types. The peculiar feature of symptoms in arthritis is that, it is variable. That is, it can be of sudden or gradual onset; mild, moderate or severe; and may stay the same for many years or may progress with time. It is very important to seek treatment in the early stages of the disease for better outcome. Not all joint pain is a sign of arthritis. But if you notice that your pain is persistent or recurrent in nature it may be the early sign of arthritis. Ignoring such early symptoms or resorting to temporary measures like pain killers could hurt you. Seek ayurvedic treatment as soon as possible when symptoms like pain, redness, stiffness or inflammation are not going away even after one or two weeks. Arthritic symptoms are actually warning signs that tell you that it is time to seek ayurvedic treatment for the same. Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for arthritis is probably the best available option today for cure and management of the condition.
How does ayurveda explain arthritis?
Arthritis is a term that is broadly used to refer to a range of diseases - rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout etc. Ayurveda has clear and specific treatment protocols for each of these conditions. Since the underlying pathology varies in each disease. ayurvedic treatment for arthritis starts by analysing the symptoms exhibited by the patient in order to determine which of the tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha are the 3 doshas) is involved and to what extent. Harmony of tridoshas is essential for joint health; when there is an imbalance of one or more doshas, it leads to inflammation, degeneration and structural abnormalities of joints. While vata dosha is the most common dosha involved in arthritis, kapha and pitta may also be involved depending on what led to the disease and chronicity of the disease. Therefore, dosha analysis is one of the fundamental aspects in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis.
What are the different types of arthritis and how this classification is important in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
There are over 100 types of arthritis in general, not most of them are common. The different types of arthritis are mainly classified into,
Inflammatory arthritis- body immune system mistakenly attacks the joints causing severe inflammation, eventually affecting other organs also. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are examples of this type.
Degenerative arthritis- damage to the cartilage in the joints can result in rubbing of bones together, eventually causing severe wear and tear causing this type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the classic example.
Metabolic arthritis- caused when there is crystalline accumulation of uric acid or calcium pyrophosphate leading to gout and pseudogout respectively.
Infectious arthritis- also called septic arthritis, caused by the spread of a bacterial or viral infection to the joints.
When you start ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala, your physician will look into the dosha involvement by analysing the symptoms presented, before deciding the treatment. This helps in arriving at a conclusion as to what type of arthritis you have among the above. The protocol for arthritis treatment in Kerala varies based on the type of arthritis you have. That is, although arthritis is a general term for joint inflammation, the treatment adopted in each type can vary. For example, the treatment method suitable for inflammatory arthritis need not be beneficial in degenerative arthritis. Understanding which type among the above helps the physician in planning the treatment accordingly.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR ARTHRITIS
What is the approach adopted in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
When you begin ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala, your physician will first look into your signs and symptoms in order to understand which of the three doshas is/are affected and to what extent. For example, the presence and severity of pain can tell the physician about the extent of vata dosha imbalance. Similarly other symptoms like redness, rise in temperature, swelling etc. provide information about the involvement of other doshas like kapha and pitta and thus your physician will be able to arrive at a definite diagnosis on the kind of arthritis you have - that is, whether it is degenerative, inflammatory, metabolic or infectious. This assessment along with detailed history taking and physical examination form the foundation of the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis.
Once the physician determines the kind of arthritis you have, treatment is planned in a holistic manner. It aims at addressing the root cause of the disease, relieving symptoms, strengthening muscles and joints and preventing recurrence. Some of the specific goals of ayurvedic treatment for arthritis are:
Improving the digestion and overall metabolism of the body (in most types of arthritis, impaired digestion will be manifested, especially in initial stages).
Balancing the doshas involved, with due importance to vata dosha
Relieving the symptoms like pain, swelling and stiffness.
Nourishing the affected joints so as to increase the stability and smoothen the movements.
What are the therapies used in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala will be a combination of internal medications and external therapies. External therapies play an important role in providing quick relief to pain and associated symptoms as the therapies are directly applied and acting on the affected joints. The therapies suitable for your condition are decided by your physician after proper examination. The most common therapies adopted in ayurvedic treatment for arthritis are,
Podi kizhi/ churna pinda swedam - massage with heated boluses containing medicated powder. This helps in pain relief and subsides any swelling, if present.
Abhyangam - massage with warm medicated oil. Helps in reducing the stiffness and pain and improves the stability of joints.
Elakizhi/ patra potali swedam- oil massage with heated boluses containing medicated leaves, helps in pain relief and lubricates the joints, facilitating flexibilty and smooth movements.
Snehapanam - intake of medicated ghee for 5 to 7 days or more which helps in dislodging toxins from deep tissues and preparing the body for detoxification. Virechanam- purgation, which is done after proper snehapanam, flushes out the doshas/ toxins from the body.
Upanaham- if only one or 2 joints are affected (like knee joints), a herbal paste is applied and bandaged for specific period of time. This helps in pain relief and subsides inflammation
Dhara- pouring herbal decoction or oil in rhythmic fashion, helps in relieving pain and is nourishing in nature.
Vasthi- medicated enema with herbal decoction or oil. This is the superior therapy among all the panchakarma treatments and helps in eliminating the morbid doshas (especially vata) completely. This will also provide a rejuvenative effect.
What are the different stages in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala ?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala usually begins with correcting the agni / digestive fire as this is integral to the effectiveness of the treatment. No treatment will be beneficial without correcting this. Ayurveda considers this step as “amapachanam” which is achieved with the help of suitable internal medicines.
Next step includes the preparatory procedures for detoxification- snehana and swedana. This will be done with internal medicines and external therapies like abhyangam and elakizhi. If found necessary, snehapanam (intake of medicated ghee) is advised for 5 to 7 days. This will help in dislodging the toxins from deeper tissues so that it can be flushed out of the body easily during detoxification procedure.
Virechanam or purgation is often done as a part of the panchakarma treatment for arthritis. This is done with potent purgative medicines and helps in cleansing the body internally. Vasthi (medicated enema) comes as the final procedure - this helps in giving a rejuvenatory effect and helps in sustaining the beneficial effects of the previous procedures.
Since each case of arthritis is different and since each individual has a unique constitution, there could be variations in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis on a case to case basis. Sometimes therapies like dhara or upanaham may be needed for better relief. It is completely under the discretion of your ayurvedic physician to decide which treatment is the best for you.
How effective is the ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for arthritis?
Arthritis treatment in Kerala has the best results if it is taken when the disease is still in its early stages. Many arthritis patients resort to painkillers and steroids as temporary relief measures before considering ayurvedic treatment for arthritis. But over time, those medicines prove to be ineffective and the disease worsens. Arthritis, being a progressive disease, the sooner you seek ayurvedic treatment for arthritis, the better. Ayurvedic treatment at the early stage will be focussed on arresting further progression of the disease, along with treating the symptoms and root cause. Since the symptoms are not much developed at this stage, treatment outcomes will be significantly better and recurrence can be prevented.
So, does that mean ayurveda treatment for arthritis in Kerala during the later stages is ineffective? Certainly not. Ayurveda can work wonders for arthritis patients even at a later stage. Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in its advanced stages will be more concentrated on pain relief and rehabilitation while preserving joint functions. This helps in preventing further progression of the disease and provides better possibility of leading a comfortable life. In short, ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala is an excellent option in most cases.
Does ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala offer complete cure in all cases?
The answer is no. The outcome of arthritis treatment in Kerala depends on several factors. Most important are the type of arthritis you have and the extent to which the disease has progressed. Certain types of arthritis that come under inflammatory and degenerative groups cannot be cured completely. Same is the case with long term arthritis presented with severe deformities. In such cases, the dosha disturbance will be so severe that it becomes difficult to go back to its original, normal state. Remember, the result of the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis will always be better if dosha imbalance is less severe. So the earlier you take ayurvedic treatment for arthritis, the better your chances.
But do not feel disappointed even if your arthritis belongs to the hard-to-cure categories. Ayurveda gives hope to even such chronic cases and can manage it better than any other system of medicine. In cases where complete recovery is not possible, ayurveda adopts treatment methods aiming at pain relief and joint stability. This helps in leading a comparatively less painful life with no further worsening of the disease.
AYURVEDIC DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE
What is the role of diet in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis includes clear dietary guidelines for during and after the treatment. This is because diet plays a very important role in reducing pain and inflammation and maintaining a healthy joint. The general rule is that one must have a vata pacifying diet - have food that does not disturb vata dosha and avoid any food that aggravates vata dosha.
What to eat:-
Inflammatory type of arthritis usually shows a high level of CRP (c- reactive protein) in blood, indicating inflammation. Fiber rich food like oats, wheat bran, barley, banana stem, broccoli, carrots, spinach etc. can lower the CRP. While it is best to minimise non vegetarian food, fish like salmon, sardine, anchovies and tuna are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that helps in reducing the CRP levels. Lean meat like skinless chicken, turkey and lamb can be included moderately in your diet. Fruits and vegetable salads should become a part of your everyday diet. This must include seasonal berries, grapes, citrus fruits like orange, lemon etc. Broccoli, spinach and carrots can be included in plenty as they do not affect vata dosha. Green soya bean, olive oil, low fat dairy products like milk and buttermilk can be consumed as they pacify vata and do not worsen your inflammatory condition. Take extra effort to season your food items with spices like turmeric and ginger as they have anti inflammatory properties. Brown rice is better compared to white rice and try to include walnuts, pistachios and almonds as they are rich in antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Ghee is vata pacifying in nature and is good if used in minimal quantities every day. Porridges and soups mildly spiced with cumin seeds and ajwain are comforting and nourishing. Stick to fresh, warm, moist and light homemade food that is easy to digest.
What not to eat:-
Any food that increases pain and inflammation by aggravating vata have to be avoided completely. Pulses like black gram, horse gram etc can worsen your condition because of their vata aggravating nature and should be avoided. Limit the quantity of sugar, salt and caffeine in your diet as this will increase inflammatory changes. Potatoes and cauliflower are the ones to avoid among vegetables. Say no to red meat, cold processed and canned food, leftovers and all types of junk food. All purpose flour/ maida is not healthy and can worsen your condition. Ditch those deep fried chips and savouries and help yourself with generous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis will give you the best results if you stick to the diet as advised.
What is the role of lifestyle in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis is never complete without moving to a healthy lifestyle. Following a systematic and healthy lifestyle as mentioned in ayurveda not only helps in managing arthritis, but is also very important for experiencing the long term benefits of the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis. When it comes to lifestyle modification in arthritis, regular exercise in a moderate form comes foremost. This is essential in maintaining a healthy weight and also to improve the flexibility of joints. Exercise makes the muscles adjacent to the affected joints strong, and this helps in preserving joint functions to a great extent. Focus on exercises that strengthen the joints and which will benefit in improving the range of motion. Low-impact exercises like walking, cycling and stretch exercises can be done daily. While swimming is a good exercise, ayurveda does not approve of exposure to cold water for long as this may worsen certain types of arthritis.
If you are overweight, give importance to weight loss as this will ease the pressure on your weight bearing joints. Avoid day sleep and make sure you get at least 6 to 8 hours of sound sleep at night. Staying awake during night time increases vata dosha and hence aggravates arthritis difficulties. Avoid long journeys sitting in the same position as this will increase stiffness and pain. Exposure to extreme weather conditions should be minimised and keep yourself comfortably warm always. Say no to cold water and make it a habit to drink warm water. Most importantly, find some quality time for yourself daily and do whatever that makes you happy. Be it listening to your favourite song or preparing your favourite dish or gardening, do it with a stress free mind and keep yourself at peace.
What is the role of emotional health in the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
Emotional health is important on two counts - One, emotional distress can further worsen the arthritic changes in your body. Two, continued emotional distress can be an obstacle that prevents you from getting completely well. Besides, pain and other arthritic difficulties can make you feel depressed at times. You may feel angry or sad unreasonably or disproportionately. Realise that these are part of your disease and ayurvedic treatment for arthritis includes taking care of this emotional aspect. Addressing the emotional aspect is very important for the ayurvedic treatment to be fully effective. Medicines and food can act and give you the full benefits of treatment only if you have a strong and healthy mind. It is important to be open with your doctor and talk about any emotional distress that you may have and your difficulties in coping with it.
Your ayurvedic physician may include internal medicines and specific therapies like shirodhara (pouring medicated milk or oil over your forehead in a rhythmic fashion) that will help in calming down your mind, so that you derive the benefits of the treatment to the fullest. Ayurvedic counselling sessions with qualified practitioners can provide the much required mental support in arthritis cases. Most ayurvedic hospitals offer a short term course on yoga and meditation during the course of your treatment, which has a positive impact aspect on your treatment. This is something that you can practise even after discharge and helps in dealing with arthritis more easily than ever before. Thus, ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala is a comprehensive approach that treats your mental well-being along with physical aspects of the disease.
What does ayurveda advise to preserve joint functions in arthritis?
Care for your joints does not end with your ayurveda treatment in Kerala. Ayurveda offers tips to preserve joint health even after your treatment. Following these tips in your daily life provides care for your joints and preserves its functions:
Ayurveda advocates the use of hot water for arthritic conditions. Cold water can aggravate vata and worsen the pain. So minimise exposure to cold water as much as possible for daily chores like hand washing your clothes, cleaning the utensils etc. by using warm water or by using a pair of gloves. Following a strict day routine and seasonal regimen as mentioned in ayurveda can help your body cope with arthritis better. There are therapies that you can undergo during seasonal changes which help in maintaining a healthy joint. Get an ayurvedic massage under expert supervision as and when time allows. This helps in keeping the joints stable and strong.
Practising yoga has benefits both mentally and physically. While it helps in calming down your mind, the different asanas provide more flexibility to your joints and is a kind of stretching exercise too. Talk to an expert yoga practitioner and find out about the best asanas that are suitable for your condition. When you come for your ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala, your ayurvedic physician can guide you regarding the exercises suitable for your condition. Ensure that you make it a part of your daily routine.
After discharge, what should you do to sustain the results of ayurvedic treatment for arthritis for the long term?
Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for arthritis will be a refreshing experience for you both mentally and physically. You will feel rejuvenated after the course of treatment, thanks to the systematic diet and lifestyle you followed during the period. So, there lies the answer as to what you must do post treatment to experience the same benefit long term.
Follow a healthy, daily routine and stick to the diet and lifestyle advised for you. You are expected to take adequate rest for some days after the treatment. You will also be prescribed some medicines for a period of 3 to 4 months. Take the medicines as per the advice of your physician for the prescribed time. Practise joint movements and simple exercises that will help in stabilising and strengthening your joints. Do not give more pressure on your affected joints even though you feel much better after the treatment.
There are chances that arthritic symptoms might worsen when seasons change. There are precautionary measures that you can take during that transition period like a simple massage, detoxification of the body etc. Your physician will be able to guide you on this, which helps in managing arthritis better. Eat healthy, stay active as much as you can and maintain a calm and peaceful mind.
Because of its chronic and progressive nature, arthritis can often be devastating and make daily life extremely difficult. But that does not mean you are destined to live with that pain and restricted movements for the rest of your life. Whether it is the early or advanced stage, ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala can help you get back to your life. The non invasive treatment method and the long term results of ayurvedic treatment for arthritis make it the best available option for the management of the disease compared to any other systems of medicine. Let arthritis not slow you down in life; adopt the ayurvedic way of managing arthritis, pursue your dreams and live your life to the fullest.
DAILY SELF CARE TIPS
Always maintain a healthy body weight.
Use hot water as much as possible and prevent exposure to cold water.
Stay active, exercise daily.
Balance your activities and rest. Do not exceed your limits.
Quit smoking and drinking habits
Avoid day sleep and staying awake late night
Eat fresh homemade food which is warm and easy to digest
Protect your joints from external injuries and extreme weather conditions.
After my ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for arthritis how long do I need to take medicines?
Only the first phase of your ayurvedic treatment for arthritis is completed during your inpatient stay in Kerala. At the time of discharge, you will be given medicines for around 4 months or more. To derive the full benefits of treatment, it is important to follow this prescription. Follow up with your ayurvedic physician on whether to continue the medicines or not after the initially prescribed period. Depending on how well you feel, your physician can decide if you need to continue the medicines further.
With the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala, will I be able to completely stop pain killers?
In most cases, yes. Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis is holistic, it addresses the root cause as well as the symptoms and it gives excellent results for most people. If you have all the medicines as prescribed and if you follow the dietary and lifestyle advice, you should be able to lead a pain free life for the most part. Advanced stages of arthritis might sometimes present with severe pain and stiffness and you may feel like having a painkiller for quick pain relief. Talk to your ayurvedic physician on this and the ayurvedic ways to manage such situations.
My job demands physical activities and continuous travelling. How do I take care of myself after my ayurvedic treatment for arthritis?
After your ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for arthritis, if possible, continue to stay at the hospital or somewhere nearby for a couple more days. When you get back home, get back to your job gradually. For the first few days take extra care to not strain the affected joints. Avoiding activities that cause strain to your affected joints is important in arthritis. Try taking adequate amount of rest and frequent breaks at intervals so that the joints do not feel the workload. Avoid using the affected joints more while on work and carry weights within your limits. Long distance travel must be limited as much as possible. Avoid sitting or standing for long time during travel as this may lead to pain and joint stiffness.
What preparations should be done before coming for ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in Kerala?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis demands modification in your diet and lifestyle. Preparing yourself by incorporating healthy habits prior to treatment, helps you to adjust with such changes easily and gives relief from symptoms. You are expected to stay for almost 3 to 4 weeks (depends on the type and severity) as a part of your treatment and so plan your work schedule accordingly. Take all relevant previous medical records and diagnostic test results that you have done, as this provides valuable information on your case and saves time.
I cannot immediately go for ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. Can arthritis be managed with the intake of ayurvedic medicines alone?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis is a combination of therapies and internal medicines. Taking ayurvedic therapies in an in-patient facility is very important initially. These therapies aim at addressing the root cause and removing dosha imbalance, rather than mere symptomatic management. You will be able to manage with follow up medicines advised by your physician, after undergoing therapies for specific duration. But resorting to ayurvedic internal medicines alone without undergoing therapies will not give the desired effect.
How long does the effect of ayurvedic treatment for arthritis last?
Ayurvedic treatment for arthritis intends to give long term relief with its holistic approach. Most of the times, early stages of arthritis can be effectively managed without further recurrence. Even in later stages, long term pain relief is possible if you follow your physician’s advice. Continuing to follow dietary and lifestyle guidelines without fail can go a long way in relieving arthritis difficulties. Taking medications correctly for the prescribed duration helps in continuing the same relief you achieved during the course of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. Undergoing follow up treatments if advised, can certainly assure a comfortable pain free life ahead.