Ayurvedic way to combat Chronic Joint Pain

Description of disease according to modern science and Ayurveda:

According to Modern Science, Arthralgia is the medical term for joint pain. This may or may not be accompanied by joint inflammation as seen in Arthritis but is the most common symptom observed.

Joint Pain can be divided into two categories:

  • Acute pain in multiple joints is most often due to inflammation, gout, or the beginning or flare-up of a chronic joint disorder.
  • Chronic pain in multiple joints is due to osteoarthritis or an inflammatory disorder (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or, in children known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Persistent joint pain is seen in all the following conditions, the classification depends on the location and affected body part.

  1. Osteoarthritis – This condition occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over a period i.e., it results from the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone.
  2. Bursitis – It is seen at two sites, the hip, and the knees. These two sites present with pain over the lateral aspect of the hip and over the medial aspect of the knee, respectively.
  3. Gout – Onset of arthritis in gout is usually severe and acute, lasting over a period of a few hours. In acute attacks, the affected joint is inflamed red, feels hot and tender to touch. It is usually seen affecting the big toe first.
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA usually causes a symmetrical small joint polyarthritis in the hands, knees, and other joints as well.
  5. Psoriatic Arthritis– It can occur in the presence or even absence of skin psoriasis. It is commonly seen with a history of Psoriasis.

According to Ayurveda, the Vedic science, this condition falls under Sandhigata Vata. This disease is caused by the aggravation of Vata due to poor dietary and lifestyle practices.
Some of the causes of Vata vitiation that lead to chronic joint pain are mentioned below:

  • Ati-Vyayama – Excessive exercise
  • Apatarpana – Fasting in excess
  • Prapatana – Fall, injury
  • Bhagna – Fractures
  • Kshaya – Depletion of tissues
  • Jaagaran – Excessive vigil (staying up late at night)
  • Vegadharan – Suppression of natural body urges
  • Ruksha – Excessive consumption of dry, cold, and incompatible foods
  • Vari-ghanagame – extreme exposure to damp, humid and wet conditions

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pain – generally described as a sharp ache or a burning sensation in the associated muscles and tendons. Joints may hurt during or after movements.
  • Tenderness – when light pressure is applied on the joint there is intolerance to pain
  • Loss of function – the ability to perform daily activities is highly compromised.
  • Loss of flexibility – unable to move your joint mobility through its full range of motion is affected
  • Stiffness – early morning stiffness and after long periods of inactivity or rest.
  • Crackling noise (crepitus) / grating sensation when the joint is moved or touched.


Diet:  Chronic joint pain is caused by the imbalance of Vata dosha. Excessive consumption of Vata aggravates foods like cold food items, heavy to digest food which causes Ama formation.

Intake of nutrient-rich foods should be increased in the diet such as potatoes, broccoli, beans, cabbage, garlic, walnuts, whole grains, dairy (non-pasteurized cow milk), meats like duck, chicken, all the seasonal fruits, and oils like mustard, olive, sesame is useful. 

Lifestyle: Chronic joint pain is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage that protects and cushions joints. Risk factors that can be controlled are sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and other metabolic disorders due to being overweight.

Quadriceps strengthening exercise can increase endurance and strengthen the muscles around the joint. Walking, biking and swimming are the best exercises. Overdoing exercises and without any guidance can also aggravate your pain. One must always begin exercises under the guided supervision of experts.

External treatments :

  • Abhyanga (Therapeutic / Preventive Herbal Oil Massage)  – Abhyanga refers to massaging the body with medicated oil. The affected joint or area is massaged using medicated oils with proper motion.
  • Swedana (Fomentation / Sudation Sweating therapy) – Sweda means sweating. Swedana is a treatment procedure in which sweating is induced. Swedana is usually done after Abhyanga and or Snehana (administration of medicated oils and ghee for oral consumption in metered doses)
  • Sthanika Basti’s – Sthanik means localized and Basti is holding the oil in a particular place for a specific time. The types of such sthanik bastis are as follows:
    • Kati Basti – Kati for low back pain
    • Janu Basti – for knee pain 
    • Greeva Basti – for neck and cervical pain
    • Prishta Basti – for the neck to lower back complete pain

Some ayurvedic herbs for effective management of chronic joint pains: 

  1. Boswellia – In India, especially for chronic joint pains, Boswellia is mostly preferred. It is also called Indian frankincense. Boswellia is an herbal extract that is extracted from the gum of the Boswellia serrata tree. This extract is also implemented in African and Asian countries. The Boswellia is available as cream, pills, and resins. Many of the research papers conclude Boswellia is beneficial for reversing Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Asthma, and intense joint pains. Boswellia and its active ingredient, boswellic acid has anti-inflammatory action, which acts on the root cause to reduce or eradicate chronic pains.
    • Boswellia reduces inflammation.
    • Reduces swellings.
    • Reduces the warmth of the joints.
    • Reduces the cartilage-destroying chemical significantly.
    • Acts as a super remedy for RA.
  2. Guggulu – In Sanskrit Guggul means “protection from disease”. Guggul has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It is a herbal extract that is extracted from the gum of the Commiphora whigtii (mukul tree), which is native to India. It is also called Yograj Resin or Devadhupa. This is available as pills, paste, and resins. This heroic flowering herb has gained worldwide popularity in treating chronic joint pains. Guggulu acts as Rasayana which is a rejuvenation medication along with being anti-inflammatory. 
    • Rejuvenates tissue and muscles.
    • Reduces pain.
    • Guggul is the drug of choice to reduce vitiated Vata dosha
    • Improves arthritis pain.
    • Helps in reducing stiffness.
    • Helps in locomotion flexibility.
  3. Other Herbs you can use –
    • Ginger
    • Aloe vera
    • Green tea
    • Turmeric
    • Cinnamon
    • Thyme
    • Black Pepper
    • Thunder God Vine

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