Joints are essential to movement. Without joints, you would not be walk, talk or even so much as rotate your neck. If you had no joints, you would not be able to operate your computer or mobile phone scrolling through this page right now. They are as essential to movement as are the muscles that pull them. However, joint swelling may sometimes occur, making it difficult to function effectively.
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What are joints like?
A joint is a meeting point for two bones, a point of articulation. For example, there are joints at your knees, elbows, knuckles, etc. These bones are held and moved by muscles. Each joint is surrounded by a capsule with a loose fibrous layer for strength and an inner synovial membrane. The synovial membrane secrets synovial fluid for lubricating and cushioning the joints. Cartilages are present in joints for better cushioning. Ligaments may also be present, holding the bones together for added strength and stability of the joint. These joints also have their own neurovascular structures for supply of nutrients and nervous response to ensure optimal functioning.
Joints might not be all that large, but they are like their own little ecosystem, contained and sufficient. Until they are bothered, then they unleash great terror and fury. Not to mention that they might refuse to function, which means that you will not be able to move!
Ayurveda has a lot to say about Joint Swelling and Edema.
Generally Speaking, Edema.
Edema is a palpable swelling due to an increase of fluid in the interstitial space. It results from a tilting of the prakruti of the body off balance.
Primarily a problem with the Kapha dosha.
Edema, generally, is primarily due to an imbalance in the kapha dosha, which is responsible for the body fluids. When the kapha dosha is disturbed, there is a build up and accumulation of fluid, causing edema. Rasa, for example, can be backed up and cause swelling in tissues, like in a problem with the Lymphatic system.
Usually, however, when there is a problem with any of the doshas, causing an health problem, there is a chain reaction of symptoms, and this can result in an imbalance of the other doshas. So, essentially, a disturbance in one dosha leads to secondary problems with the other doshas.
In view of this, it is important to note that the other doshas can also play a part in the formation of edema.
Pitta can Cause Edema too.
If agni, the digestive fire, which is controlled by pitta, is too weak, there is incomplete digestion. As a result, there is a build up of ama, a toxic waste product of incomplete digestion. Ama accumulates in the body, causing edema.
How Vata can also play a part in Edema.
Vata is responsible for movement, and movement here includes blood circulation. If there is a spike is the vata energy, circulation is disturbed, and there is a back-up of fluid, coupled with the nutrient deprivation in the areas where enough blood cannot reach. This back up of fluid, including blood, leads to varicose veins.
Joint Swelling, to be more precise.
Join swelling is a build up of fluid in the soft tissue surrounding a joint, causing the joint to become larger and irregularly shaped. Joint swelling may be accompanied by joint pain and stiffness.
Joints are surrounded by soft tissues, like the synovial membrane mentioned above, which secretes the synovial fluid to cushion the joint. If the fluid accumulates, it can lead to joint swelling and edema.
Sandhishotha(joint swelling) also links joints to health of medha dhatu, that is, the adipose tissue.
What other causes are there to Joint Edema?
There is no one single exact cause for this condition, as the it can even be strictly individual. However, some common progenitors of joint swelling include:
- Venous or lymphatic drainage obstruction.
- Arthritis, which is accompanied by swelling, redness, warmth and fever, etc. It could be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or any of the many other types or arthritis.
- Insect bite.
- Synovial sarcoma.
- Cartilage tear.
- Bone tumor, and many more varied causes.
- Medications and prescriptions.
- High kapha composition: individuals with high kapha composition are more susceptible to edema because they secret fluids at a faster rate.
Symptoms of Joint Swelling and Edema.
To diagnose, or at least, suspect edema in the joints, then:
- There will be presence of deep aching pain in the joint
- The joint feels warm to the touch.
- The joint is stiff with limited range of movements.
- Inability to move the joint normally at all.
Curing Edema in the joints.
Edema could be mild and go off on its own. It can be very disfiguring though, aside the obvious limitations it presents to the quality of life. The disproportionate, amorphous swelling of a body part isn’t something that a person will like to present in public.
If you find yourself in this situation, then not to worry, there are methods that can be used to relief edema. Some include the use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs(NSAIDs). NSAIDs are used if the cause of the edema in the joint is an injury. Sometimes, anti-inflammatory drugs like steroids are used. Diuretics may also be used to drain off the excess fluids in form of urine.
However, Medhya Herbals has an all natural approach to dealing with joint swelling and edema with Ayurveda.
Ayurveda- Sure bet to alleviating joint swelling and edema.
- Punarnava: This is used to remove excess fluids. It exerts a cooling, cleansing and firming effect on the joints that will serve to remove the warmth/heat, clear off ama, and help the sagging skin regain it’s normal state.
- Essential Oils: such as eucalyptus, mint, lemon, etc, are effective remedies for edema too.
- Abhyanga: is a massage therapy. Massage will help to ease the tension in the fluid distneded area. Stroke the affected area toward the heart using firm, but gentle strokes.
- Use of tea tree oil and neem.
Lifestyle Adaptions to manage Edema.
Below are some lifestyle changes that you can make to alleviate your symptom of edema at home:
- The PRICE method, which involves Protection of the affected joint, Resting the joint, Ice packs applied to it, Compression with elastic bandages, and Elevation above the level of the heart.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Best Diet for Joint swelling and Edema
- Eat kapha-pacifying diet to reduce the rate of production of fluid and reduce risk of accumulation of excessive fluids.
- Avoid dairy(particularly the processed one) and meat. These further aggravate kapha.
- Processed grains like cereals, oats, etc, will not help, and should be avoided.
- Tridoshic diets and herbs are also recommended to cover all the bases.
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