Rheumatoid Arthritis - (RA), Aamvat
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
What are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis?
What are the signs and symptoms
of rheumatoid arthritis?
Ayurveda insights- do’s and don’ts
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
The word rheumatism is derived from the Greek word 'rheuma', which means a swelling. It refers
to an acute or chronic illness which is characterized by pain and swelling of the muscles,
ligaments and tendons, or the joints.
RA is an autoimmune disorder in which your own body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue,
causing inflammation and damage to your joints.
RA is a chronic disease that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and limitations in the motion and
function of multiple joints. While RA can affect any joint, the small joints in the hands and feet
tend be involved more frequently than others. This produces a pattern of joint disease that
regard as characteristic of RA. Inflammation can develop in other organs as well.
Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body such as the lungs, heart and eyes,
rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid
The stiffness seen in active RA is typically worst in the morning and may last one to two hours
or throughout the entire day. This long period of morning stiffness is an important diagnostic
clue, since few other arthritic diseases behave this way. For example, osteoarthritis does not
generally cause prolonged morning stiffness.
It can attack any age group even children (juvenile arthritis). It tends to attack women more
What are the causes of rheumatoid arthritis?
Certain cells of the immune system don’t work properly and begin attacking healthy joints.
This misdirected immune system then attacks the body's own tissues. This leads to inflammation
in the joints and sometimes in various organs of the body.
The primary focus of the inflammation is in the synovium, which is the tissue that lines the joint.
Inflammatory chemicals released by the immune cells causes swelling and damage to cartilage
The cause of RA is unknown.
Some possible culprits include:
•Infections - certain infections or factors in the environment might trigger the activation of the
immune system in susceptible individuals.
What are the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?
RA can be difficult to diagnose because it may begin with only subtle symptoms, such as achy
joints or a little stiffness in the morning. Additionally, many diseases, especially early OA,
behave like RA.
It is important to remember that, for most patients with this disease (especially those who have
had symptoms for fewer than six months); there is no single test that “confirms” a diagnosis of
RA. Rather, diagnosis is established by evaluating the symptoms and results from a physical
exam, laboratory tests and X-rays.
The diagnosis of RA is based on the symptoms described and physical examination findings such
as warmth, swelling and pain in the joints. Certain blood levels commonly found in RA can help in
establishing a diagnosis. Rheumatoid factor (an antibody eventually found in approximately 80%
of patients with RA, but in as few as 30% at the start of arthritis).
•Antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP).
•Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (a blood test that, in most patients with RA, tends to
confirm the amount of inflammation in the joints).
•X-rays can be very helpful in diagnosing RA, but may not show any abnormalities in the first 3-
6 months of arthritis.
The symptoms can develop gradually or can be noticed suddenly. Symptoms differ according to
acute or chronic conditions.
Following are the symptoms:
•Stiffness of joints while waking up in the morning.
•Redness, swelling or tenderness around the area of the affected joints.
•Severe pain, stiffness, swelling in one or more joints of hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders,
knees, ankles, feet, jaw and neck.
•Loss of appetite
•low grade ever
•The joints will feel warm on touching
•Morning stiffness can later last for hours or for most of the day
•Mostly, a symmetrical pattern of joint pain is noticed in arthritis (both sides of the body
•development of rashes
•Unpredictable ‘flares’ of inflammation
•The swelling of joints is persistent and difficulty in simple daily actions like opening a jar can be
•After a period of time, more number of joints are affected
•during flares, joints frequently become red, swollen, painful, and tender
•Occasionally, only one joint is inflamed
•Psychological Effects: Anxiety , Depression
•Disability: Loss of work ,Loss of independence
•Heart or lungs can be affected
•Small lumps called rheumatoid nodules over joint areas like knuckles, elbows, or heels are
As rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, the symptoms are no longer limited to the
joints. Following are the other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms:
•Pleurisies (Inflammation of the lung lining)
•Pericarditis (Inflammation of the tissue (pericardium) surrounding the heart)
•Anemia (low red blood cell count)- experience a chest pain that typically changes in intensity
when lying down or leaning forward
•Dryness in mouth and eyes resulting from inflammation of the salivary and tear glands,
condition known as Sjogren's syndrome
•Decreased white cells can be associated with an enlarged spleen (referred to as Felty's
•Itchy, burning sensation in the eyes
•Hoarseness in voice, due to formation of nodules on the vocal cord
•Long-standing rheumatoid disease, is blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis)
•Nerves can become pinched in the wrists to cause carpal tunnel syndrome
Ayurveda insights- do’s and don’ts
Effective and early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis makes a very big impact on the
subsequent course of the disease by improving quality of life and reducing joint damage. It is
most effective when the disease is in its nascent stage.
Goals of Therapy
•To relieve symptoms including fatigue, pain, swelling and stiffness
•Prevent joint destruction, loss of joint function, deformity and disability
•Preserve quality of life
•Achieve clinical remission
Conventional medicine advice the use of disease modifying drugs (DMARDs). DMARDs may be
used alone or in combinations. Single DMARDs that are available include Methotrexate,
Leflunomide Sulfasalazine and Hydoxychloroquine. Corticosteroids also used.
Ayurveda has its own different approach to disease course. There are certain drugs which are
very safe in any age group, doesn’t cause adverse effects or harm to other systems.
A set of exercises will also be recommended in order to increase mobility of the joints. These
rheumatoid arthritis exercises will help to improve the flexibility of the joints.
Severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis can be treated with surgery where in the damaged painful
joint is replaced with a metal device. This is considered as a last resort, and advised only when
other treatment options are unable to improve the joint condition.
•Keep your digestive system active
•Add cow’s ghee in your diet
•Add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, and turmeric in diet
•Add black pepper, dry ginger powder in daily food
•Eat lots of fruit veggies like bitter guard, pumpkin, guard, drum sticks, carrots, beet root,
•Add warm water in your daily consumption or treated with panchakola, ginger etc
•Take hot water bath
•Give hot fomentation to joints with sand, dry cloth or with hot water bag
•Apply dry ginger paste over affected joint, will relieve swelling and pain
•Add castor oil in diet or have it with ginger decoction
•Eat easy to digest foods e.g. have more of green gram, warm soups
•Can have moderate amount of chicken , meat , fish etc
•Eat frequent , smaller meals
•Take adequate sleep
•Eat only when previous food is digested or when you feel hungry
•Ayurveda has its own theory of auto immune diseases , through medicines we try to teach
your immune system to recognise self and nonself
•Ayurveda has immunomodulators, rasayan drugs which helps in eliminating the disease process
itself and controls recurrence
•Do regular Panchakarma , seasonal and routine too as it’s a effective body cleansing method
and effective tool for removing endo toxins from your body viz. vaman, virechan , basti,
ramtamokshana , elakazzhi etc
•In acute cases use leech therapy to get faster result in swelling and severe pain
•Apply warm herbal poultice according to doctor’s advice
•Some types of basti, e.g. yapan, vaitaran, etc., are very helpful but needs to be done under
an expert’s supervision
•Use specific oils for local massage as with ordinary oils your symptoms will aggravate. E.g.
vishagarbha oil, kottamchukyadi oil, murivenna oil, etc.
•Certain ayurvedic medications which gives instant and permanent results are
bhallatakavaleha, til bhallatak, simhanad gugulu, rasnadi gugulu, aamvatari rasa, amrutadi
gugulu, gokshuradui gugulu, amrutarishta, dashamoolarishta, mharasnadi kadha, sanjivni vati,
agnitundi vati,ajamodadi churna, alambushadi churna, bruhat vat chintamani rasa, rasaraj rasa,
sameer pannag rasa, gandharva haritaki etc. take this under doctors guidance only.
•Food allergies can put a strain on the already weakened immune system and worsen
symptoms. Eliminate those foods that cause allergy or aggravate and precipitate painful
•Common foods that cause intolerance or allergies are as under. So stay away from this food
•Milk and dairy products
•Synthetic additives and preservatives
•Fried and grilled foods
•Excess Tea , coffee, ice creams
•Berries and other citrus fruits
•Soft drinks, colored foods
•Milk shakes, sweets
•Sour, spicy, salty foods , junk food
•Pigeon peas, sprouts
•Avoid daily leafy veggies
•Curd and its recopies
•Avoid citrus fruits as orange, sweet lemon, lemon, tamarind, pineapple etc
Other things you should avoid are-
•Food and drink, which are heavy to digest
•Day sleep, late nights
•Overeating, eating during indigestion
•Use of food, which is rough, cold, dry, unclean
•Emotional factors such as passion, anger, greed, confusion, envy; grief, excitement, fear
•Avoid cold water bath or swimming
•Protect your joints from any injury
•Avoid cold compression this will aggravates symptoms
•Don’t suppress natural urges
•Avoid excess use of, NSAIDs, COX-2 inhibitors, steroids and DMARDs
•Avoid anxiety, tensions, worries
Synonyms and Keywords
RA, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile RA, amvat, vat rog, psoriatic
arthritis, joint inflammation, joint pain, joint destruction, joint swelling, joint reconstruction, joint
replacement, fatigue, malaise, morning stiffness, autoimmune reactions, salicylates, nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, COX-2 inhibitors, disease-
modifying antirheumatic drugs, DMARDs, biologic drugs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants,
autoimmune disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, connective tissue disease, systematic
disease, immune disorder, inflammation, inflammatory disorder, rheumatic disease, rheumatoid
nodules, synovitis, synovium, vasculitis, anemia, Sjögren syndrome
yapan basti , leech therapy , ayurved, ayurvedic treatment for RA, massage , oils,
panchakarma, diet in RA, do’s and don’ts of RA