Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Cost of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment In India
1,300 - 3,800 (USD)
21 - 28 Days in Hospital
22 - 29 Days in India
Cost of Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment In India
1,300 - 3,800 (USD)
21 - 28 Days in Hospital
22 - 29 Days in India
  • About 1% of the total world population has Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA)
  • It is not an old age disease - 50% of RA cases start between 35-55 years
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs more in women than in men
  • The most commonly affected joints are the hands and the feet
  • Biologics Treatment for RA can cost up to 30,000 USD a year for a person in the USA

All about Rheumatoid Arthritis

This article has been reviewed and approved by Dr Sajith Varma for authenticity and medical correctness on 27 Feb 2020

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that affects the joints in the body. RA is one of the most common diseases in the world. Women tend to be affected more than men.

Even though there is no complete cure for RA, you will get good results with Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

"Ama Vata" is the name for RA in Ayurveda texts. The treatment starts with fasting or light diet followed by enema (Vasti), pouring of medicated oils over the head (Dhara), and medicated massages (Kizhi).

You will need to be in the hospital for 21-28 days for the treatment.

Cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis

In an autoimmune disease, the body's immune system attacks its tissues. They somehow mistake some healthy tissues as foreign elements and hence attacks it.

In RA, it targets the synovium tissue inside the linings of the joint. The function of this tissue is to lubricate the joints. So any attack on this will mean lesser lubrication, which affects the joint movements. It also causes swelling in the joints resulting in pain and stiffness.

This swelling wears down the cartilage. Cartilage is a smooth elastic tissue that covers and protects the ends of the bones. A loss of cartilage reduces the space between the bones. The bones will then rub against each other and can even move out of place due to this. 

RA is a systemic disease, which means it affects the whole body. So, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. Any delay can cause permanent damage to the joints.

The disease affects the joints of the hands, knees, ankles, wrists, feet, and elbow. Rheumatoid Arthritis is usually symmetric, so if one side of the joint is affected, the other side will soon have it.

Risk factors of Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are some factors which increase the risk such as 

  • Family history- People with RA in the family are at a higher risk 
  • Gender-  Women having RA is three times than that of men
  • Smoking- Heavy smoking can cause RA
  • Obesity- People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk
  • Injury- Trauma or injury to the joints may also be a cause

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA symptoms can vary from person to person. These may even come and go. Some of the common ones are

  • Stiffness: You will find the joints very hard to move, especially in the mornings. 
  • Swelling: There may be swelling in the joints 
  • Joint pain: Inflammation in the joint makes it painful even when you are not moving the joint
  • Redness in the joints: Joints become warmer, tender and red

 

Apart from these, other signs are fever, tiredness, poor appetite, and even depression.

Stages of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Even though RA is a progressive disease, it doesn't progress the same way in all people. There are four main stages which are

  1. Stage 1: This is the first stage where there is a swelling in the lining inside the joint. It becomes stiff and painful.
  2. Stage 2: This is the moderate stage where the cartilage gets damaged. Joint movements are restricted, and pain is severe now.
  3. Stage 3: RA is severe now as the damage extends to the bone. Deformities in the bone may start soon. 
  4. Stage 4: This is the final stage, where you will find that the joints are not working anymore. Bones may begin fusing in a condition called ankylosis.

Diagnosis of RA

Detecting RA is hard as many symptoms are the same as other diseases. Doctors check for swelling, stiffness, or redness in the joints. You will have to take blood tests to check the following parameters

  • RF (Rheumatoid factor)
  • Anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide)
  • ESR (Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate) 
  • CRP (C-reactive protein)

 

Doctors may ask for X-Rays and MRI images, which helps them to see the joints clearly

Ayurvedic view of Rheumatoid Arthritis

As per Ayurveda, all of us have energies or doshas, namely Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. You will be healthy when the doshas are in balance. If there is any imbalance, it leads to diseases. 

RA is mainly a Vata disorder. However, Pitta and Kapha also have a role here.

Pitta or the fire element controls the digestion and metabolism in the body. Lifestyle changes and wrong food choices lead to poor digestion. It causes Pitta to be unbalanced. Food doesn't get processed correctly, and the body waste (Ama) does not flow out properly. This waste or toxins are known as Ama.

Vata controls the air movement and blood circulation in the body. Lifestyle changes, stress, etc. cause the Vata to go out of balance. This imbalance affects blood circulation and even block Pitta and Kapha doshas to do their functions.

Vata carries the waste (Ama) through the blood along with nutrients. This waste leads to the build-up of Ama in joints causing it to swell. Kapha dosha controls the lubrication of tissues and has a liquid nature.

When Kapha is also out of balance, it gets mixed with Ama creating more damage to the joints. Thus all three doshas contribute to making RA condition worse in the body.

Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ayurvedic treatment for RA depends on your body type. Ayurveda doctors will find out your primary dosha type during the first consultation. The doctor will also ask questions about family history and lifestyle during this time. 

Diet, which is a key part of the treatment, will be as per your primary dosha type. The first set of treatments prepares the body for more extensive procedures to follow. These are Dhara (pouring of warm medicated liquid over the head) and Kizhis (warm herbal massages) like Podikkizhi and Elakizhi.

Next are the cleansing procedures like Virechana (induced purging), Vasti (Enema), and Nasyam (medicines through the nose). These procedures help in reducing the swelling and pain in the joints.

The final set of procedures are Dhara, Kizhi, and Vasti, which strengthen the tissues and improve the functioning of the joints. 

Yoga, meditation, and physical exercises have a big role in Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

With Ayurvedic treatments, you can feel the reduction in symptoms like pain, inflammation, and stiffness by undergoing periodic courses of PANCHAKARMA followed by medications.

Other Treatment Options for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Modern medicine does not offer any permanent cure for RA. They are based on anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids to control the swelling and to relieve the pain.

In many cases, joint replacement surgeries are the only option.

Complications due to RA

In many cases, RA can lead to other issues like 

  • Osteoporosis: RA can cause the bones to weaken. Also, some of the medicines used for RA make the bones thinner and weaker.
  • Rheumatoid nodules: About a quarter of people with RA develop these nodules. These are firm lumps of tissue under the skin, especially under the affected joints.
  • Infections: Many of the medicines are Immunosuppressant drugs. While they slow the progression, it makes your immune system weak. Thus the body becomes prone to infections.
  • Heart and Lung problems: Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause blocked arteries, scars in lung tissues, and inflammations around the heart and lungs. These are mainly due to the side effects of the medicines.
  • Lymphoma: Patients who have severe RA are high-risk candidates for lymphoma

Preventing Rheumatoid Arthritis

While there are no sure ways to prevent RA, these steps can reduce the risk.

  • Avoid heavy and oily food
  • Have food only at regular intervals
  • Do not exercise soon after taking food
  • Avoid incompatible food like fish and milk 
  • Never suppress natural urges

This article has been reviewed and approved by Dr Sajith Varma for authenticity and medical correctness on 27 Feb 2020

Dr Sajith Varma
Dr Sajith Varma
BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery)
Dr Sajith Varma is an Ayurveda physician who has healed thousands by blending his experience and hard-earned wisdom in Ayurveda. A BAMS graduate from Coimbatore Ayurveda College, Dr Sajith Varma is one of the few who have come through a unique seven-and-half-year course under the Gurukul system. He has served as chief physician and senior consultant across many hospitals in India and abroad.
Ayurvedic treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
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