For people suffering from arthritis arrival of winter announces an increase in pain resulting from inflamed joints and knee pain. There is no need to bear the pain in silence because easy-to-do lifestyle changes and food supplements can offer relief from arthritic pain.
Osteoarthritis is one of the commonest causes for the wear and tear in your joints. With osteoarthritis you increase your chances of fracturing your bones as they become brittle. Other than OA, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can divest your joints of mobility. In RA body mistakenly identifies synovial joints—the cavities in bones containing synovial fluid to lubricate joints as foreign and attacks it. Joints inflame in response to body’s attack mechanism, become gnarled and degenerate.
Besides age, which is beyond our control, how we treat our joints decide how long they will serve us. Under activity hurts your joints; so does over activity. If your job involves standing for long in one position it can stress your joints.
Why arthritis aggravates in winter
It’s osteoarthritis that worsens in winters, because the cold weather makes the joints feel stiffer than usual. The wide changes in temperature can cause swelling around the inflamed joints, which causes more irritation to the surrounding nerves. Moreover, when the weather turns cold people prefer to stay at home and forego exercise, which can make joints stiffer. Ayurveda explains joint ache in terms of aggravation of vata dosha.
It’s advisable to keep your joints warm by dressing in layers, says Dr Sarabhjeet Sachdeva, orthopaedic surgeon with Ganga Ram Hospital.
• When the weather turns chilly, stay at home, but go out for walks when the sun is shining.
• Avoid foods that produce gas like beans and dal.
• Keep your joints active by getting warm oil massage.
• For effective results it is advisable to alternate cold and hot packs for 10 minutes. Hot pack will relieve pain whereas cold pack will be helpful in reducing inflammation.
• Eat healthy during winter and refrain from gorging on calorie rich diet during winter.
Clinical studies have given thumbs up to the supplements of Glucosamine and Chondroitin to repair aching joints. Glucosamine and Chondroitin are part of normal cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones in a joint. An insufficient supply of glucosamine restricts the efficiency of cartilage rebuilding and can delay repair of cartilage and other connective tissues.
Ayurveda on arthritis
According to Ayurveda arthritic pains are mostly pains caused by the aggravation of vata (air), dosha. Arthritis is a condition which is caused by accumulation of Ama and aggravation of vata. Ama is a toxic by-product of improper digestion. When the food we eat is not digested completely by the digestive fire, it produces a toxic substance called Ama. “A complete body massage with sesame or mustard oil is highly beneficial in reducing the vata, thereby, reducing the pain, advises Dr Preeti Chabbara, Ayurveda expert at Ganga Ram.
Ayurveda recommends massage with warm medicated oils on affected joints, fomentation, colon cleanse, change in diet and herbal supplements like Shallaki and Guggulu for keeping joints supple. “Gugglu helps cleanse toxins, strengthen the bone tissue and invigorate the body, especially the blood vessels and the joints. Shallaki herb improves blood circulation, reduces the swelling of joints, and relieves joint pain.
Asafetida, garlic and ginger not only strengthen the immune system but also alleviate pain and inflammation, particularly in osteoarthritis.
Consuming turmeric powder twice a day along with warm water greatly helps in curing arthritis” advises Dr. Chhabra.
Noni, a fruit found in Hawai islands is known as pain killer and is used to alleviate symptoms of pain. “The fruit has anti-inflammatory ingredients and helps relieve arthritic pain,” says Dr Deepti Dhara, Delhi based Ayurveda doctor.
Your knees will buckle if you’re overweight. Be sensible and do some load shedding to keep your knees happy. Drink eight to ten glasses of water to enable your body flush out toxins.