Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the sacroiliac joint as well as the joints between the spinal processes. The word ankylosis means abnormal adhesion of the bones of a joint or the fusion or consolidation of two or more bones or other hard tissues into one. The word is of Greek origin. The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum, just above the tailbone, and the iliac bones located on either side of the buttocks, meet. The disease causes pain and inflammation in the affected joints, but may also cause this same effect in other parts of the body as well.
Chronic inflammation in affected areas, vertebrae, and sacroiliac (SI) joint will cause pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time chronic inflammation can lead to the vertebral bodies fusing together in a process called ankylosis as described above. This leads to the loss of mobility at the joints affected.
Like some forms of arthritis – psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis is also a systemic disease. It also affects other tissues around the body. The tissues of the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys are particularly vulnerable. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic disease with no proven cure and treatments can decrease pain and moderate symptoms. The success of the treatment depends on early detection and it particularly seeks to prevent complications and physical deformities. This condition belongs to the class of diseases called seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, where the RA factor is negative. Ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease and most of the others in seronegative rheumatoid arthritis come under the same category. Ankylosing spondylitis has a genetic component HLA- B27 gene and now there are blood tests to detect this marker.
Men are seen to be more commonly affected than women and some studies say it is two to three times more common in men than in women. In men AS primarily affects the joints of the spinal column whereas in women it is the joints away from the spine that gets affected. Children are not commonly affected, but rare cases have been reported. The common age of onset is in the twenties and thirties.
Common complaints of AS patients are chronic pain in the lower back and hips especially in the early morning or after rest. Symptoms start with stiffness in the lower back or hip area and as the disease progresses the symptoms may get worse or improve depending on the treatment. As sequel tendons and ligaments attached to ribs, spine, hip, shoulders, and knee are affected the patient experiences severe pain in these areas as well as in the eyes. If left untreated or improperly treated, patients will experience difficulty in the expansion of the chest as the disease progresses to the ribs. Stooping, fatigue, weight-loss, loss of appetite, bowel inflammation and eye inflammation are the other symptoms usually seen as the diseases progresses to the chronic stage.
The treatment of AS aims to manage the condition by reducing the inflammation and arresting the progression of the disease.
The activities of the parents are cited as the cause these group of diseases, which confirms genetic predisposition as the reason and are classified under ‘ Asadhya’ means non-curable diseases. The immediate reason aggregating the underlying cause is the improper diet and activities which is vitiating Vata dosha. Here Vata dosha is vitiated by the blockage of Kapha in the passages of Vata. AS signs and symptoms resemble “Vata” diseases (arthritis group) and Ayurveda has a clear edge in dealing with these conditions with internal and external medications. Vata accumulated in the channels due to the blockage of Kapha, increases and manifests as different forms of inflammation. Vata exhibits different signs when it is located in different tissues and the symptoms and signs become severe as the general health of the patient deteriorates. In the elevated Vata conditions, immunity is decreased and the chances of repeated infections are high. As mentioned, there is no complete cure for it, but can give a better life for AS patients without causing any serious side effects such as in steroid therapy.
Ayurvedic treatment of Ankylosing spondylitis
The aim of Ayurvedic treatment of AS is to reduce the inflammation in the joints and to stop the progression of the disease. Internal medicines are selectively administered to improve the digestion and immunity, and physical strength, while external medications and massages will help to reduce joint stiffness and support their movement.
Please note, this does not constitute professional medical advice, but only seeks to create awareness about the availability of a parallel medical stream which has a successful track record in managing AS for decades, if not centuries.
Depending on the stage of the disease and the physician’s assessment of various factors, one or more of the following Ayurvedic preparations and therapies are used to treat AS.
Dhanwantharam Kashyam, Maha Rasnadi Kashayam, Punarnavadi Kashayam, Vidaryadi Kashayam, Nirgundyadi Kashayam, Rasnadi Kasahaym.
Arishta ( Not indicated for Diabetic patients)
Balarishta, Dhawanthararishta, Dasamularishta, Lohasava, Draksharishta, Aswagandharishta.
Yogaraja Guggulu, Kaisore Guggulu, Lakshadi Guggulu, Sudarsanam Tablet, Vettumaran Tablet
Oils for internal use.
Kshirabala 101, Dhanwantharam 101, Bala Tailam
Oils for external application
Ketakimooladi Tailam, Sahacharadi Tailam
Dhanya Swedam, Patrapodala Swedam, Shashtika Pinda Swedam, Virecahana, Vasti, Pizhichil, Dhara.
Vegetarian diet during the treatment. Avoid dairy products, pickles, spicy foods.
Moderate exercises and yoga are advised. Yoga Asanas can be picked depending on the age and the general conditions of the patient. Customized packages to address the individual needs are more working in our experience.
How to seek Ayurvedic treatment?
Patients should contact a professional Ayurvedic expert with a proven history of successfully treating ankylosing spondylitis. Once they decide to go the Ayurvedic way to manage their condition, they are advised to strictly follow the instructions of the doctor in terms of dosage, diet, and exercises.
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