Arthritis is a disease of the elderly, so how did I get it?’ This was the thought that ran through Pia’s mind when she was told she had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at just 19 years of age.
Pia’s tryst with rheumatoid arthritis began quite early. Thinking back, Pia always had joint pain on and off throughout her life, but she always assumed it was because of her active lifestyle. She once had a fever with body pain that the local doctor diagnosed as seasonal viral fever. Her body pain and exhaustion, on the other hand, persisted even weeks after the fever had begun. “There were days when just getting out of bed was an uphill task. My fingers and knee joints used to swell so badly that I could not do even the most basic tasks” remembers Pia.
Pia tried numerous doctors and treatments to no avail. Though the treatments Pia tried appeared to work at first, they always failed after a few months. Finally, she decided to try Ayurveda and approached Dr. Nimisha Kureekad, Medical Officer at Sreeragam Ayurveda Hospital, in Ernakulam.
“Understanding one’s disease is as important as the treatments so that the patient can learn to cope with it,” believes Dr. Nimisha. Therefore, she explained to Pia that while osteoarthritis/arthritis is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage and is typically associated with old age, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects younger people. “Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease that, in the long run, can affect other organs like the heart and kidneys. Therefore, it is very important that we arrest the progress of the disease early on so that rheumatoid arthritis patients can live a near-normal life,” says Dr. Nimisha.
According to Ayurveda, rheumatoid arthritis / Ama vata is caused by ama, a toxin produced as a result of a poor diet. Therefore, diet plays an important role in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. As part of the therapy, patients are put on a strict diet and forced to practice Langhanam (fasting). Other treatment methods include Panchakarma therapies such as Sodhana chikitsa (body purification) and Shamana chikitsa (symptom relief).
Pia has been under the expert care of Dr. Nimisha for over 9 months and has seen a significant reduction in her symptoms. The fact that the positive effect has lasted is the highlight of her Ayurvedic therapy at Sreeragam Ayurveda. Though there have been a few setbacks, they have been few and far between. Pia is more conscious of what she eats and is attempting to live an active lifestyle through yoga and participation in activities that interest her.
“Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder and cannot be completely cured. Many patients may look very normal and it is difficult for others to comprehend the extent of their pain and discomfort,” says Dr. Nimisha. Therefore, her advice to the family and friends of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is to be more patient and compassionate. “Support them on days when they are down and help them lead a happy, normal life,” advises Dr. Nimisha.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

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