The term “ARTHRITIS” is composed of two words “ARTHO” meaning Joint and “IT IS” meaning inflammation. So the word Arthritis denotes inflammation in the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis is derived from a Greek word, denoting watery and inflamed Joint. It is popularly known as RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a variety of Arthritis, which is an auto-immune (Our own immune system attacking the body) chronic inflammatory condition (Inflammation is a condition which arises as a result of the body’s reaction to external trauma or an infection which is usually characterized by redness, swelling, pain and rise in temperature) of the Joints affecting the synovial membrane, and over a period of time, leading to the destruction of the cartilage and bone and to the disfiguring of the joint, leading to dysfunction. The Stiffness and pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis aggravate with rest.
Allopathy or Ayurvedic Treatment for RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) is aimed at preserving the functionality of the joints by, preventing Joint destruction, keeping the inflammation and the associated symptoms like pain and stiffness under control, to maintain a maximal range of skeletal mobility and to avoid the development of deformities and complications.
Anti-inflammatory and Pain killing medication remains the main stay in the management of Ankylosing Spondylitis.
Disease modifying drugs like Steroids, Methotrexate, Hydro-chloroquine, Sulfasalazine, are useful in reducing inflammation of the joints and preventing damage to the joints. However they have to be used for extensive period of time and are associated with side effects like liver damage and severe digestive problems on long term use.
A New class of drugs called as biological agents, comprising of Tumour Necrosis Factor Alpha Blockers, IL-1 blocker and T cell co-stimulation blockers are recommended in the management of this condition. These injections are administered every month and are effective in controlling the inflammation but are to be used for extensive period of time. They are very expensive and also predispose the patient to infections especially Tuberculosis with long term usage. These factors severely limit the feasibility to use them widely.
Physiotherapy and leading an active lifestyle are recommended.
Cessation of smoking is very important to protect lung function and prevent cardiac complications.
In a case where deformities have developed surgery is advised.
Ayurveda considers this disease as “AMAVATA” and has a very effective approach to the treatment of this disease. The approach is holistic comprising of diet modifications, lifestyle changes, stress management, herbal medication and Ayurvedic therapies, Yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation, that help the body get back to Homeostasis (state of balance and harmony). The approach is even effective in a majority of patients .
In usual practise, we observe that most patients require long term treatment, but improve very well with herbal medicines and external applications combined with intense therapies comprising of the Panchakarma (The detoxifying therapies). Panchakarma is one of the most important aspects of Ayurvedic treatment and is very important in the management of chronic auto-immune diseases like RA. It is performed by a sequence of therapies leading up to detoxification therapies like Vamana (Emesis), Virechana ( Purgation), Vasthi (Enema) and Nasyam (Nasal Administration). Of these, Vasthi is the most important therapy for the treatment of RA. It is preceded by other preparatory therapies like, Dhanymla dhara (Pouring of a warm fermented liquid), Podikkizhi ( Herbal powder massage) Ilakkizhi (Massage with bolus of fresh herbal leaves), Oil massage with steam bath. Then series of several varieties of Vasthis (Medicated enema) are performed taking into consideration, the general health of the patients. The combination of these therapies tailor made to the patient and administered under the supervision of knowledgeable Ayurvedic physicians are very effective in relieving the inflammation, relieving the condition and preventing damage to the joints without the need for powerful drugs.
Therapies like Tailadhara (Pouring medicated oils on the body), Nhavarakkizhi ( Massage with Bolus of rice boiled in medicated milk) and Ksheeravasthi (Medicated milk based enema) and administration of certain herbal preparations that protect the tissues (Rasayanas) is advised thereafter. They help to strengthen the tissues and improve mobility, flexibility and to improve functional capability.
Periodic administration of Ksheeravasthi with a short course of preparatory therapies is seen to prevent further damage to the joints in several patients.
At AVN AROGYA, we specialize in the offering individualized treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis and have had very high success rate at achieving and maintaining remission and good functionality in patients suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis without the need for steroids, disease modifying drugs or biological agents like TNF alpha blockers. This is very much possible in patients who come to us in the initial stages itself. Even others who are in the chronic condition of the disease respond to our treatment but it is not uniform in all cases. In some such cases where the disease is very severe, patients are advised to continue modern medication along with our Ayurvedic treatment, till they get into a good remission and gradually the drugs are withdrawn and they are maintained on Ayurvedic treatment alone. In very rare cases, we do advise patients to continue some Modern medicine as well as is it very critical to keep the disease process under check failing which the joints are damaged irreparably.
We train the patients in exercises to be performed regularly to maintain the functionality of the joints, at our Physiotherapy and Occupational therapy departments as well. We also integrate Yoga in the form of pranayama and meditation for the holistic care of patients, as stress management forms a very important part of the overall care.
Our day care centres in Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi and Madurai offer consultation, medication and therapies which are adequate for a large number of patients but some patients with severely active disease and those whose symptoms are chronic may require In-patient therapy at our hospital in Madurai. Follow-up treatment is possible at our centres and even at remote locations by continuation of medication and we offer telephone consultation as well.