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Types of Arthritis



Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms That Affect the Entire Body

Ayurvedic Home Remedies

Diet in Arthritis

Ayurvedic Treatments

When to Seek Medical Care

Arthritis (derived from the Greek: “arthron” meaning “joint” and “itis” meaning inflammation) is a term that includes a group of disorders that affect joints and muscles. Arthritis symptoms include joint pain, inflammation and limited movement of joints. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia.

When a joint is inflamed it may be swollen, tender, warm to the touch. Surrounding each joint is a protective capsule holding a lubricating fluid to aid in motion. Cartilage, a slippery smooth substance, covers most joints to assure an even, fluid motion of the joint. With joint arthritis, the cartilage may be damaged, narrowed and lost by a degenerative process or by inflammation making movement painful. 

For most people arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis. Joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can be managed through a combination of medication, exercise, rest, weight-management, nutrition, and, in some cases, surgery.

Arthritis is not just one disease; it is a complex disorder that comprises more than 100 distinct conditions and can affect people at any stage of life.

Types of Arthritis
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and these 100 different conditions pose unique problems for diagnosis and treatment. Most types of arthritis involve joint inflammation. Some of the types are:

Ankylosing Spondylitis This inflammatory form of arthritis affects the spine and the sacroiliac joints. Since it often presents with low back pain, it is often misdiagnosed but can be treated.

Fibromyalgia is a soft tissue form of arthritis that is due to defective neurotransmitter function in the brain. Because these neurotransmitters are responsible for many sensory functions, patients with fibromyalgia present with bizarre symptoms

Gout The gout refers to the group of metabolic disorders. In these disorders, the crystals of the monosodium urate (sodium salt of uric acid) get deposited in the tissues of the body. This results in the raising of uric acid level in the blood. Ayurveda describes this situation as ‘Vatarakta’ a condition in which, the blood and Vata Dosha both get vitiated and troubles an individual. In addition to joints, the kidneys are a big target of this disease. Dietary changes and medicines are very effective in treating this disorder.

Juvenile Arthritis: Children under 16 yrs of age may suffer from Juvenile Arthritis. Generally, they have painful joints, a fever, and are anaemic. This condition has several degrees of severity, including juvenile chronic arthritis among others.

The only criteria that labels juvenile arthritis at first sight is looking that one or more joints are affected for more than six weeks in a child. This is to be treated as soon as possible and should not leave untreated as it may bring hazardous condition to the child causing severe damage.

Osteoarthritis (Asthigata Vata’ in Ayurveda) This type is characterized by reduced elasticity of the cartilage which is most often weakened by stretching and excessive physical activity. Cartilage is important since it absorbs the shock to our joints thus loss of this material would lead to quick wear and tear of the joints itself. Pain results from bones rubbing against one another. This then hinders mobility quite a bit.

This type of arthritis is the one people think of as being associated with aging. Osteoarthritis affects weight-bearing areas such as the spine, hips, knees, base of the thumbs, and feet. Genetics and mechanical factors also play a big role.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica occurs in people after the age of 50 and presents with severe stiffness and aching in the neck, shoulders, and hips. Because it is very treatable, accurate diagnosis is needed. Because so many other conditions look like it, an accurate diagnosis is not always easy.

Polymyositis This inflammatory form of muscle disease is often associated with arthritis. Because it is a systemic condition that affects all muscles- including those that are responsible for the functioning of the heart, lungs, etc., careful examination and appropriate aggressive medical therapy are necessary.

Pseudogout This form of arthritis is also due to crystals- deposits of calcium pyrophosphate or hydroxyapatite in most instances. Pseudogout may mimic other types of arthritis such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Further, it may coexist with other types of arthritis making it very difficult to diagnose.

Psoriatic Arthritis is a potentially serious inflammatory form of arthritis that is often found in association with psoriasis. Because it may begin and progress insidiously, it can cause serious problems.

Reactive Arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome or Reiter's arthritis), is classified as an autoimmune condition that develops in response to an infection in another part of the body. Coming into contact with bacteria and developing an infection can trigger the disease. Reiter's syndrome has symptoms similar to various other conditions collectively known as "arthritis". By the time the patient presents with symptoms, often time the "trigger" infection has been cured or is in remission in chronic cases, thus making determination of the initial cause difficult.

This condition is also known as arthritis urethritica, venereal arthritis and polyarteritis enteric.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (Aamvat in Ayurveda) is the most common serious inflammatory form of arthritis. This type of arthritis can have an early onset age as early as 40s, especially among women. Even children and younger people can suffer from this type, and one such type referred to as systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The synovial lining of the joints gets swollen as a result of typically being attacked. Sufferers should seek treatment immediately as it’s possible for bones to become deformed. Left untreated rheumatoid arthritis may shorten life expectancy by as much as 18 years!

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: This relatively common autoimmune disease is systemic in nature and capable of affecting many internal organ systems. SLE most often affects women in the child-bearing years. Early diagnosis and management are necessary since this disorder is potentially life-threatening.

Other Types of Arthritis:

Adult-onset Still's disease is a rare form of inflammatory arthritis that was characterised by EG Bywaters in 1971. The underlying cause is unknown. It usually presents with high spiking fevers, joint and muscle pains, a salmon coloured rash and other symptoms of systemic inflammation.

Basal Joint Arthritis: The basal joint or CMC (carpometacarpal) joint is the joint at the base of the thumb that allows for swivelling and pivoting. It tends to wear out from normal use, developing pain, stiffness and symptoms of arthritis. Most common in women over 40, often it can happen in both thumbs.

Calcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate Disease (CPPD) is a rheumatologic disorder with varied symptoms arising out of the accumulation of calcium pyrophosphate dehydrates crystals in connective tissues. It is more commonly known by alternative names that specify certain clinical or radiographic findings, although neither is synonymous with CPPD. Pseudogout refers to the acute symptoms of joint inflammation or synovitis: red, tender, and swollen joints that may resemble gouty arthritis (a similar condition in which monosodium urate crystals are deposited within the joints). Chondrocalcinosis, on the other hand, refers to the radiographic evidence of calcification in fibrocartilage. It is the knee joint is the most commonly affected.

Fungal Arthritis, also called mycotic arthritis, is a very rare condition. It can be caused by any of the invasive types of fungi. These organisms may affect bone or joint tissue. One or more joints may be affected, most often the large, weight-bearing joints, especially the knees.

Gonococcal Arthritis is an infectious (septic) type of arthritis that occurs with those infected with gonorrhoea. It affects more women than men. Two forms exist, one with skin rashes and multiple joint involvement, and a second form in which gonococcemia leads to infection of a single joint.

Lyme disease occurs as a result of infection with Borrelia burgdorferi. The organism is transmitted by a deer tick bite.

Palindromic Rheumatism is a rare type of inflammatory arthritis. It is characterized by episodes of joint pain & swelling involving the joints & at times, tissues surrounding the joints. At times, episodes are also associated with skin nodules.

Septic Arthritis is the purulent attack of a joint by an infectious agent which produces arthritis. People with artificial joints are more at risk than the general population but have slightly different symptoms, are infected with different organisms and require different treatment. Septic arthritis is considered a medical emergency. If untreated, it may destroy the joint in a period of days. The infection may also spread to other parts of the body.

Viral Arthritis is inflammation of the joints that results from a viral infection. The duration is usually short, and it usually disappears on its own without any lasting effects. Symptoms include joint pain and joint swelling of one or more joints. In general, the arthritis is mild. However, there is no known way to prevent viral arthritis.

The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to degenerative arthritis), abnormal metabolism (such as gout and pseudogout), inheritance (such as in osteoarthritis), infections (such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease), and an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus). Treatment programs, when possible, are often directed toward the precise cause of the arthritis.

According to Ayurveda, excessive Vata Dosha produces this condition. Those factors that aggravate the Vata Dosha are commonest cause for the arthritis. Certain factors like age in elderly people and obesity are factors contributing to arthritis.

Modern medicines believe that an infection or degenerative changes can get you arthritis. It also affects the synovial fluid and can damage the synovial membrane. Ayurveda says too much walking; exercises, eating too dry food, roaming in cold atmosphere etc are the causative factors for arthritis.

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterised by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present. Loss of range of motion and deformity can result. Certain forms of arthritis can also be associated with pain and inflammation of tendons surrounding joints.

Some forms of arthritis are more of an annoyance than a serious medical problem. However, millions of people suffer daily with pain and disability from arthritis or its complications. Moreover, many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling, weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.

Joint Pain: It is the most significant symptom of arthritis. Pain can occur at any joint in the body. It can be felt while any movement like walking, standing, getting up from a chair, holding an object, bearing any weight etc. Redness, tenderness, locking, clicking, swelling in joints are quite common symptoms of arthritis.Loss of Motion / Loss of flexibility:  The damage of healthy tissues of the body can change the bones and other tissues of the joints. This affects the shape of the bones and results in hard and painful movements and also results in loss of flexibility.Swelling and Redness of joints: The patients face swelling, redness and warmth in joints.Gland Swelling: Glands can become large, tender and hard. There are more chances of glands swelling in the neck.Joint Malformation: Deformity of joints of hands or legs is one of the well known characteristic of arthritis.Fever: Fever along with joint pain is dangerous.
Crepitus: Patient feels cracking /grating feeling / sound under the skin with a sensation in the affected joint. It can be felt with or without pain.Deadness in joints: Pain, tingling and numbness in the hands and wrist is felt.Problems with toes, fingernails and eyes: Patient experience swelling in toes. Lifting of fingernails is another symptom of arthritis. Severe pain and redness in eyes can be felt.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic (long-term) disease. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can come and go, and each person is affected differently. Some people have long periods of remission. Their rheumatoid arthritis is inactive, and they have few or no symptoms during this time. Other people might have near-constant rheumatoid arthritis symptoms for months at a stretch.

Although rheumatoid arthritis can involve different parts the body, joints are always affected. When the disease acts up, joints become inflamed. Inflammation is the body's natural response to infection or other threats, but in rheumatoid arthritis inflammation occurs inappropriately and for unknown reasons.

Joint inflammation is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. That includes:

  • Stiffness. The joint is harder to use and might have a limited range of motion. Morning stiffness is one of the hallmark symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. While many people with other forms of arthritis have stiff joints in the morning, it takes people with rheumatoid arthritis more than an hour (sometimes several hours) before their joints feel loose.
  • Swelling. Fluid enters into the joint and it becomes puffy; this also contributes to stiffness.
  • Pain. Inflammation inside a joint makes it sensitive and tender. Prolonged inflammation causes damage that also contributes to pain.
  • Redness and warmth. The joints may be somewhat warmer and more pink or red than the neighbouring skin.

Which joints does Rheumatoid Arthritis affect? The hands are almost always affected, although literally any joint can be affected with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: knees, wrists, neck, shoulders, elbows, even the jaw. Joints are usually affected in a symmetrical pattern -- the same joints on both sides of the body.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms That Affect the Entire Body
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect many areas of the body. These effects all result from the general process of inflammation, leading to a wide variety of symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • Fatigue
  • Malaise (feeling ill)
  • Loss of appetite, which can lead to weight loss
  • Muscle ache
Joint inflammation is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. That includes:

  • Stiffness. The joint is harder to use and might have a limited range of motion. Morning stiffness is one of the hallmark symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. While many people with other forms of arthritis have stiff joints in the morning, it takes people with rheumatoid arthritis more than an hour (sometimes several hours) before their joints feel loose.
  • Swelling. Fluid enters into the joint and it becomes puffy; this also contributes to stiffness.
  • Pain. Inflammation inside a joint makes it sensitive and tender. Prolonged inflammation causes damage that also contributes to pain.
  • Redness and warmth. The joints may be somewhat warmer and more pink or red than the neighbouring skin.

Which joints does Rheumatoid Arthritis affect? The hands are almost always affected, although literally any joint can be affected with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms: knees, wrists, neck, shoulders, elbows, even the jaw. Joints are usually affected in a symmetrical pattern -- the same joints on both sides of the body.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies
  •  Take two teaspoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey mixed in a cup of warm water, twice a day, for curing arthritis.
  • Bake one or two egg- plants. Mash and fry in about 2 tablespoons of castor oil. Spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic and salt can be added while frying. Take once daily for two to three months for relief.
  • Taking half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with warm water , twice a day, helps cure arthritis.
  • One raw clove of garlic every day is very beneficial. This clove can be fried in ghee (clarified butter) or castor oil. Take this once daily for three months.
  • Guggulu is very helpful in curing arthritis. Eat half a teaspoon twice a day after meals with warm water.
  • Make a paste of 1 teaspoon red chillies with fresh ginger mixed in half a cup of sesame oil and strain it. Gently rub this oil on the affected joints.
  • Camphor, wintergreen and cinnamon oils are also beneficial for external application.
Shallaki (Boswellia serrata) is used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic extract in Ayurveda.  Its anti-inflammatory action is used for the treatment of gout, low back pain, myositis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibrositis.  The therapeutic action includes decrease of joint restoration, swellings, and improvement of blood supply to inflamed joints, increased mobility, pain relief and amelioration of morning stiffness.
Diet in Arthritis
Following is the diet suggested for the patients suffering from arthritis:

  • Vegetable juices and soups
  • Coconut water
  • Coconut milk
  • Cucumber juice
  • Cooked vegetables like squash, zucchini and pumpkin
  • Spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, asafoetida, garlic, fennel and turmeric,
  • Green salad with a dressing of lemon juice and a little salt
  • Khichadi (recipe made by cooking rice and mung dal
Ginger is known for reduction of inflammation. Either have ginger in form of tea or just plain ginger powder and honey, every day before meals.

When thirsty drink hot or warm water, as hot as you normally drink your tea or coffee instead of plain water or water at room temperature.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables such as apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, spinach, and broccoli because they are highest in antioxidants. Fruits like banana, sapodilla (chickoo) are good to have for arthritis.

Include foods which are high in minerals and vitamins but low in calories.
Turmeric relieves arthritis pain. So it should be used in daily diet.
Drink 3-4 cups of green tea daily
Eat red meat and green leafy vegetables because they are full of iron.
It is recommended to add bread, pasta, noodles, rice and cereals to your food because they are the healthiest source of energy.
One can include Vitamin E in diet. This is helpful in treating the arthritis.
Use skimmed or toned milk instead of full cream. Calcium enriched soya milk is also good for arthritis patients.
Eat grilled food instead of fried food.
Use olive oil instead of butter and sunflower oil.


  • Alcohol, soda and foods that is high in calories
  • Excess intake of sodium
  • Starchy foods as they are considered to be bad for arthritis.
  • Fried food and red meat
  • Processed food because they contain invisible fat, sugar and salt
  • Biscuit, Cake, ice cream, sweets, baked food and pastry
  • Avoid grams and pulses. These increase the Vata Dosha and so does the arthritic condition.
  • Fast food

If you are allergic to certain food or if it is increasing arthritis symptoms, then exclude it from diet and re-introduce after a month or so to find out the difference. Don’t experiment with too many foods because it is risky. Change in diet effects very little on most types of arthritis but it is very important to maintain perfect body weight and good nutrition. Only diet can not treat arthritis.

Ayurvedic Treatments
Drugs like NSAIDs, pain killers and analgesics are useful but for short term but have side effects

Ayurveda has an answer for arthritis. The treatment that decreases the Vata Dosha is considered to be useful in treating various types of the arthritis. However, the treatment differs from type to type but overall with some internal (like guggulu, sallaki, rasna etc Ayurvedic drugs) and external therapies (like massage, powder massage, oil pouring etc), arthritis can be controlled. 

Generally the treatment focuses on purging the cause of the arthritis. It can be a long process to find a suitable treatment because every patient may have different history and symptoms of disease.

The goals of arthritis treatment are as follows:

  • Decreasing signs/symptoms
  • Slowing down the development of the disease
  • Prevent Joint damage
  • Conserve flexibility and mobility

Dhanyamla dhara, valuka sweda, vaitrana basti and mridhu virechana are the treatments recommended in select cases.

Ayurvedic medication for arthritis are Lasunadi Vati, Rasnadi or Rasnasaptakam Kashyam, Yoggaraja Guggulu and Simhanadi Guggulu


It is a disbelief that arthritis patients should not exercise because of the danger of joint damage. Due to stiffness in body, arthritis patients are unable to do even their routine daily tasks. Medical research has proved that exercise benefits arthritis patients, if done carefully. Light exercise should be tried first. Then gradually increase the time and effort. Regular exercise is as important as the balanced diet. People who have arthritis should do exercise for following reasons

It reduces stiffness and pain around the joints
It keeps the muscles strong
It decreases fatigue
It increases confidence and develops a strong sense of well being
It makes the joints flexible by moving them
It helps in controlling weight
It increases the strength and burns the extra calories

Following are basic arthritis exercises-

Stretching Exercises- It is most important among all the exercises and should be a part of daily routine. It should be done 3-10 times twice in a day. Breathing is very important while exercising. Stretching exercises can be beneficial in:

  • Protecting Joints
  • Reducing the risk factor of injury
  • Helps in warm up
  • Relaxing the body
  • Reduces stiffness and makes joints flexible

Yoga is good for maintaining flexibility and 15 minutes of daily yoga activity is sufficient.

Strengthening Exercise- Strong muscles reduces the stress on the joints. These exercises make the muscles stronger. These are done daily after stretching exercises. These are basically of 2 types;

Isometric – It includes tightening the muscles without moving the joints

Isotonic - It includes strengthening the muscles by moving the joints

Arthritis patients should do these exercises daily or every other day. Decrease the time duration if you feel more joint pain and swelling.

Aerobic Exercise- Aerobic exercises help with increasing the stamina and control your weight. Low-impact aerobic exercises include walking, cycling and swimming. Do these exercises for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week.


Walking: It helps in increasing the stamina and controlling the weight. It also maintains flexibility of joints. It strengthens bones and eases joint pain. A brisk walk of 30 minutes daily is quite beneficial. Do it for 10 minutes. Repeat 3 times.

Cycling: It is a good exercise option for arthritis patients. It can be indoor or outdoor. Try to adjust the bicycle according to the problematic areas (stiff joints) of your body. It should be comfortable. Cycling takes less energy than walking. Those who cycle regularly, have less risk of heart attack.

Swimming: It is also a good exercise to keep the bones strong.

Water exercise: It is also good for arthritis patients because soothing warmth of water relieves pain and stiffness. With this, body temperature increases and blood vessels are dilated. This results in increased blood circulation.

Always consult your physician before starting an exercise. Regular exercise can benefit in terms of decreasing pain and depression and increasing routine functional ability

When to Seek Medical Care

If joint pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, loss of motion or deformity occurs, medical evaluation by a health-care professional is warranted. Even minor joint symptoms that persist unexplained for over one week should be evaluated. For many forms of arthritis, it is essential that patients have an early evaluation as it is clear that this can both prevent damage and disability as well as make optimal treatment easier.

Arthritis is a chronic disease that can stay with you for a long time and possibly for the rest of your life. Your treatments will probably change over time and medication may be adjusted. Having a positive mental outlook and the support of family and friends will help you live with arthritis and be able to continue to perform your daily activities.

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