Joint Support

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

Knee joint pain, or what may clinically be diagnosed as osteoarthritis [OA], is a common disorder — majorly in the older age group, as well as young, also middle-age, adults. The causes may be direct, such as injury to the knee, degenerative changes, as also overuse, or indirect, viz., occupational hazards, certain deficiencies and inappropriate posture. The presenting complaints may vary from a simple, on and off, mild degree pain to crippling severity, which may, at times, be associated with swelling and stiffness, but, all the same, disturbing everyday activity.

Knee joints are one of the major joints in the human body. They are also the key weight bearing areas — the most vulnerable of all joints too.

A Case In Point

A septuagenarian consulted me with six months’ clinical history — of sudden discomfort on moving the knee joints with mild swelling that would appear, on and off, alongside a feeling of heaviness around the knees and the legs. He had already visited conventional medical physicians, regarding his condition and, as a routine, undergone blood tests and X-ray of the knees.

The blood parameters for any signs of infection, or inflammation, were within the normal range; the X-ray images showed only minimal degenerative changes for his age. He was prescribed medications to manage the pain and nutritional supplements to strengthen the bones, aside from physiotherapy. The protocol gave him relief, but the effect wouldn’t last long. Besides, the discomfort always returned, after a period of rest and he was amazed as to why it kept happening, in spite of him maintaining a healthy physique with good diet, lifestyle and exercise.

I put him through a thorough history taking and I arrived at the conclusion that he had a weak digestion. He was, I ascertained, regularly consuming fish oil capsules to improving his overall health, but the digestion of the heavy fat content possibly impacted his indigestion and caused aama [undigested material/free radicals, in simple terms] and ‘attacked’ his ‘vulnerable’ spot, the knee joint, causing mild inflammation, especially in the connective tissues, giving him symptoms of pain and swelling.

I advised him to discontinue the fish oil supplements and prescribed an Ayurveda formulation Jeerakadyarista, for better digestion and improved gut health. It took about three weeks for him to experience a tangible difference in his digestion capacity, as also much reduced knee joint pain.

OA In Context

Osteoarthritis [OA] is a degenerative disorder. It may lead to a progressive decline, or loss of function in the joints. What characterises OA are pain and inflammation [red, swollen, hot, and painful tissue response to injury, or infection], in the joints, followed by loss of cartilage [the cushion between the bones in the joint], along with joint abnormality.

Fact-File 

  • OA affects the knee, hip, hand, elbow, ankle, spine, or multiple joints
  • It may prevent the osteoarthritic individual from getting engaged in normal, day-to-day activity
  • When it becomes severe, OA may restrict the individual to bed — for days at a stretch
  • The pain may sometimes vary in its intensity, or severity. Or, one may experience mild, moderate to severe joint pain and stiffness, along with crippling aches — with joint abnormality.

The Spin-Off 

  • Osteoarthritis is typified by loss of cartilage. This may cause pain with basic movements
  • The breakdown of the cartilage between bones is usually prompted by recurrent joint injury, heredity, obesity, diabetes, or the presence of other joint, or bone, disease
  • A drop in hormone levels in women after menopause [stoppage of periods] may also lead to a greater risk of OA and premature death
  • The risk of OA of the knee joint, in women, increases 40 per cent for each ten-pound weight gain
  • Osteoarthritis occurs more swiftly in older adults with joint injuries than younger people
  • Individuals who hold jobs requiring extreme physical activity may also s-l-o-w-l-y develop osteoarthritis.

Self-Help 

  • Reduce your weight in consultation with your Ayurveda doctor, when you ‘tick’ the higher side of the weighing scale. This helps to control your joint twinge; also discomfort
  • Regular exercise helps to fortify your muscles and possibly ‘fuel’ cartilage growth
  • Studies suggest that supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, including vitamins C and E, provide natural protection to the joints. They also help to maintain healthy collagen
  • Applying a hot pack, or warm poultice, is handy to relieving pain
  • Consult a prosthetist for assistive devices to improve joint function
  • Follow-up with your Ayurveda doctor on a regular basis.
Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic, based out of Bengaluru, with a branch in Udupi, Karnataka, India. Her passion for Ayurveda, the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living. Dr Nayak also has credentials of being a family physician and she is loved by her patients of all age groups. She frequently shares talks regarding health with corporates and is a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease. She is also Assistant Editor [Ayurveda] @ ThinkWellness360.

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