Modern medicine recognizes more than 100 types of joint conditions. It is one of the most common chronic and degenerative health problems in the world. Causes can be attributed to injury, infections, metabolic conditions, or even tumors but the main cause is from a toxic condition. Arthritis is mainly a Vata (air) disease which involves pain and weakening of the bones (the main Vata tissue in the body). In most cases the causes remain unknown to western medicine. Disorders are also related to age, sex and weather conditions. Ayurveda also cites causes related to digestive disorders.
Main Causes and Development: Causes include both internal and external factors. Arthritis is more common in windy, damp and stormy climates. It is related to weak digestion which causes the accumulation of toxins in the joints, as we age our digestive power weakens. Poor colon function allows the toxins to accumulate and be reabsorbed back into the blood stream and settle in the joints where circulation is reduced. Eating incompatible food combinations, foods which create toxins, lack of exercise or exercising after eating fatty foods or poor digestion, produces ama (undigested food toxins). Ama associated with Vata (internal moving body air) quickly moves to different parts of the body and accumulates where circulation is sluggish or slow such as the hands, knees and other bone joints filling the blood vessels with a waxy type material. It is also more common in old age when Vata naturally increases in the body. Meat diet, foods such as ice cream, to much concentrated dairy such as aged cheese or globs of sour cream or cheese with your meals, cold foods especially during cold weather which weaken the digestion, heavy cakes, pastries and candies, packaged and processed foods with little fiber are the main dietary causes. Gas producing vegetables and legumes also create more internal air which pushes the toxins into the joints. This ama blocks tissue pores and passages. This causes heaviness and weakness of the heart which becomes the seat of the disease.
Vata type: Most common type. Severe, throbbing and cutting pain that is variable and migrating. This becomes worse in cold weather or when cold water comes in contact with the affected joints.
Other symptoms include dry or scaly skin, stiff or cracking joints, bone deformities, gas, abdominal distention, low back pain, nervousness, fear, anxiety and insomnia.
The pain is relieved by heat. Constipation is usually a symptom. Body types will usually be thin. Best to live in a tropical climate and follow a Vata diet.
Pitta type: Second common. There will be a burning sensation with redness and inflammation which becomes worse in hot weather or from hot water. Diarrhea, loose stool, anger, sweating, fever, irritability are usually present. With Pitta type it is recommended to use bitter herbs in combination with heating ones. Best to live in a cold climate and follow a Pitta diet.
Kapha type: Least common. There will be itching, swelling or loss of movement and edema without inflammation around the joints. It becomes worse in cold, damp or wet weather. Other symptoms may be heaviness, aches, oily skin, congestion or mucus in the stool. Pain is relieved by heat or hot-dry weather. Best to live in a hot-dry climate and follow a Kapha diet.
Combinations: One may also have a combination of the symptoms from the three types so treatment by your Ayurvedic doctor may vary accordingly.