Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body's tissues are mistakenly attacked by their own immune system.

Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and signs

  1. Joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer
  2. Morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer
  3. More than one joint is affected
  4. Small joints (wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet) are affected
  5. The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
  6. joint pain, such as in the joints of the feet, hands, and knees
  7. swollen joints, fever, limping, polyarthritis, loss of range of motion, tender joints

Risk factors

  1. Eyes - Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
  2. Mouth - Dryness and gum irritation or infection
  3. Skin - Rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
  4. Lungs - Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
  5. Blood Vessels - Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
  6. Blood - Anemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells
  7. Your sex - Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis
  8. Age - Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly begins between the ages of 40 and 60
  9. Family history - If a member of your family has rheumatoid arthritis, you may have an increased risk of the disease
  10. Smoking - Cigarette smoking increases your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease. Smoking also appears to be associated with greater disease severity
  11. Environmental exposures - Although uncertain and poorly understood, some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis. Emergency workers exposed to dust from the collapse of the World Trade Centre are at higher risk of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  12. Obesity - People who are overweight or obese appear to be at somewhat higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, especially in women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger.

Ayurvedic View

Improper food habits and sedentary lifestyle can lead to impairment of digestive fire, formation of ama (toxin) and vitiation of Vata (air). When a person indulges in Vata-aggravating diet and lifestyle, then this aggravated Vata circulates ama in the channels of the body and deposits it in the joints, causing Amavata.

Ayurvedic treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis starts with pacification of Vata and elimination of toxins from the body.

  1. Langhanam (Fasting)
  2. Sodhana chikitsa (Purification of the body).
    1. Snehapanam
    2. Vamanam
    3. Manal kizhi
    4. Virechanam
    5. Podikizhi
    6. Elakkizhi
    7. Pizhichil
    8. Vaitharana / Kshara basti
    9. Navarakizhi

Shaman Chikitsa – It is done by using very effective and time tested Ayurveda formulations like kashaya, asavarista. Choorna, vati, taila, Rasoushadi etc.

Is there anything I can do on my own to manage my rheumatoid arthritis?

  1. Pay attention to your pain.
  2. Change position often.
  3. Use the right tools.
  4. Conserve energy.
  5. Ease the ache
  6. Respect your pain
  7. If an activity causes joint pain, change the way you do that activity. Continuing the activity despite pain can damage your joint.
  8. Forgoing the activity altogether can lead to joint stiffness through lack of use.
  9. Take rest breaks.
  10. Use adaptive tools.
  11. Alternate between sitting and stretching, and light and moderate activities, throughout the day.
  12. If you have pain in your feet, wear proper shoes. Ask your doctor or occupational therapist for specific recommendations.
  13. If you position yourself correctly and use the muscles best suited to a task, you can minimize the stress on your joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis diet

  1. Curds are not ideal to take in Rheumatoid arthritis as it affects stomach health. Clarification: Curds does not affect stomach health as such. But in rheumatoid arthritis, curd is best avoided.
  2. Fishes are to be avoided. But a few research articles show that fish oil, rich in omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can reduce stiffness, pain and inflammation.
  3. A green leafy vegetable called Indian spinach [Basella rubra (Basale soppu in Kannada)] is to be avoided
  4. Contaminated water, cold water, frozen food stuff causes increase in Vata and Kapha leading to increase in pain and stiffness.
  5. Taking contrast foods such as taking milk with fish, etc.
  6. Black gram, Eat freshly prepared light food and avoid reheating leftover food.
  7. Avoiding natural urges causes increase in Vata. Click on the phrase to understand this concept. It causes increase in vata, which is not good in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  8. Skipping night sleep causes utter Vata imbalance, which is highly unrecommended in RA.
  9. High fat meet, mutton etc.
  10. Food that are heavy to digest, deep-fried stuff, junk foods, aerated drinks are a strict.
  11. Avoid refrigerated, stored and frozen foods.
  12. Don’t drink cold beverages. Minimise the intake of fermented foods like idli, dosa.
  13. Avoid exposure to cold breeze.
  14. Take hot water shower to reduce pain and joint stiffness.
  15. Do regular exercise according to your body capacity.
  16. Overcome stress and emotional disturbance by meditation, pranayama and cultivating new hobbies.
  17. Avoid sleeping in afternoon.
  18. Reduce the intake of sprouted grams.Avoid tubers like potatoes, include snake gourd, ridge gourd, drumstick and other bitter and fibrous vegetables.
  19. Avoid constipating foods like sandwich, burger, pizza, etc.

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