Do you know that more than 10 million people in India suffer from osteoarthritis, the commonest form of which is osteoarthritis of the knees? Well, osteoarthritis is not the only cause of knee pain, but it surely is the commonest.
Why is knee pain so common?
We as humans have evolved as bipeds in contrast to most animals of the animal kingdom. However, this also gives us unique problems like knee pain, back pain and haemorrhoids. Our knees bear the weight of the entire body, and thus, are vulnerable to wear and tear. The common causes of knee pain include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions of the joints such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
Types of knee pain
*Mechanical: Sprain or strain, meniscus tear, and ligament injury (commonest of which is the anterior cruciate ligament injury (ACL tear), fractures and patellar dislocation.
*Non-mechanical: Infection such as tuberculosis, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis among others.
How can Ayurveda help?
Ayurveda is a holistic system of Indian medicine, which has been tried and tested for several millennia in India. The scope of Ayurveda in the management of knee pain is certainly not limited to over-the-counter pain liniments, balms and oil. Ayurvedic medicines are prescribed after careful history taking and clinical tests. They are individualized as per the prakriti of the patient. The principles of Ayurveda involve creating a balance between Vata, Pitta and Kapha, the three vital humors in the body. Vata humor is believed to cause the painful conditions of the knee joints.
External and internal medication modalities are available in Ayurveda for knee joint pain.
A) External modalities:
Panchakarma procedures such as Snehana (oleation), Swedana (fomentation or sudation) and Janu Basti (bathing the affected joint in medicated oil) are the most popular. Internal Panchakarma procedures such as Basti (medicated enema) and Virechana (purgation) are also shown to have beneficial effects.
Trigger point pain management can be performed with the help of Agnikarma (therapeutic heat burn), Viddha chikitsa (puncture therapy) and Raktamokshana (bloodletting).
B) Oral medications:
1) Amruta Bhallatak yoga: This is an ancient formulation and has shown to be more potent than glucosamine in cartilage regeneration. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties among others.
2) Shallaki (Boswellia serrata): This is a plant gum-resin extract. It is a potent painkiller and has antioxidant properties. Shallaki is widely used in the treatment of osteoarthritis and muscular pains.
3) Guggulu: Yet another gum extracted from a plant called Commiphora wightii. It is well-known for its anti-inflammatory action. This gum forms the base of most popular formulations for joint pain, such as Yogaraj Guggulu, Mahayogaraj Guggulu, Sinhnaad Guggulu, etc. It has an action similar to steroids; however, with minimal side effects.
4) Amruta (Tinospora cordipholia): The literal translation of the scientific name is a heavenly elixir. And true to its name, this remedy has found use in several conditions including diabetes, glucose metabolism and inflammation. It is shown to have excellent results in auto-immune disorders.
Ayurvedic medications are shown potent anti-inflammatory action and antioxidant properties. Some of the above Ayurvedic medications have an action similar to steroids. However, the common property of Ayurvedic medications for knee pain is ‘Vatashamana,’ medicines alleviating Vata, the causative humor of pain. These medicines thereby prevent the progress of the disease to the point where surgical management is the only option.
It can be said that Ayurveda can effectively manage knee pain; however, one must get treated from a registered Ayurveda practitioner. Home remedies cannot substitute the profound science of Ayurveda!
So if you are experiencing knee pain, immediately fix an appointment with an Ayurveda practitioner today!