The most comprehensive post on understanding and healing joint pain according to ayurveda by Dr. Manaan Gandhi.

When movement is restricted, pain has increased, effectiveness and concentration on work and family suffers. You feel restricted and limited and opportunities go to waste because of this ever increasing problem. Treating such joint pain is very easy to do with ayurveda. 

The key is to understand which type of ayurvedic category that particular joint pain fits in. This categorization is the most crucial part of understanding and treating any joint pain and if this fails, then everything else will also fail. There are three major categories of joint pain according to ayurveda. 

The first of which is called "aamvata." In this category, the patient suffers from "shifting joint pain" or the pain which migrates from joint to joint. Sometimes it is the elbow, sometimes it is the knee, sometimes the shoulder. This condition will also show swelling and stiffness of the joints and relief on exercise or movement and massages. Oil application on the other hand will increase the pain and worsen the situation. The tongue of such a patient will be coated and even after scraping the tongue, the coating will persist. The pain and stiffness will reduce as the day goes on but be unbearably high in the morning hours. This sort of migrating pain has to be dealt with differently than the other types. The diet for such a pain has to be light and easily digestable. It should comprise of moong, rice, digestive soups, boiled vegetables. The person must avoid all dairy products, non veg food, bread, biscuits and other bakery products, raw foods like salads, sour, spicy or fermented food, fried food and must exercise daily either brisk walking for 2 to 3 kilometers or by practising yoga postures.

The second type of joint pain is known as "vata-rakta" wherein the pain and swelling starts from a small joint like the interphalangeal joint in the hand or the toes, slowly all the joints in the body get involved. There may be an increase in the serum creatinine levels of the patients that suffer from this condition. There is a dushti of rakta here along with vata dosha and therefore skin problems and nervous problems are sometimes associated with this disease. The patient does not have a white coating on the tongue but feels as if air is moving when the joint is pressed. Anything hot and spicy becomes unbearable to the patient and he feels as if the pain is pricking and spasmatic. Also I have seen patients burp when any of these affected joints are pressed. This condition requires the patient to take diet that is easily digestable but not very hot in potency. Blood letting (Raktamokshan) is a process in ayurveda wherein the dushit or vitiated blood is sucked out of the body and is increasingly effective in this disease. The person should not eat anything dry, should avoid things like bhel, popcorn, khakra, khari biscuits etc, not have anything heavy to digest like wheat or wheat products including bread, biscuits, etc. The person should use a lot of cow's ghee and cow's milk and should compulsarily avoid cold food and drinks.

The third type of joint pain is one of the most common types known as "Sandhigata Vata." The person suffering from this type will have swelling and pain in the joint. This pain may be a dull pain throughout the day or a sharp spasmatic pain. It is said in the ayurvedic scriptures that the swelling feels as if it is filled with air(vayu). This pain generally starts in one of the major joints like knee, sholder, lumbar, cervical, elbow or ankle joints. It then spreads to all joints eventually. The X-ray will show osteophytes and osteoarthritic or osteoporotic changes. This type of joint pain is divided into 2 categories:

  • Upasthambhit sandhigatavata- In this type of sandhigatavata, the patient has a coating on the tongue, stiffness in the morning, relief on massage, relief on exercise and pain decreases as the day moves on. For this type of pain, the patient should take light diet like mentioned in "aamvata," also the patient should add dry ginger powder (sooth) to the normal drinking water in the ratio of 2 tbsp per litre. Exercise daily is a must for help in relieving pain. Avoid sleeping during day time and stay as active as possible. For such a patient, staying active and exercising despite the pain will give tremendous relief eventually. 
  • Nirupasthambit sandhigatavata- In this type of sandhigatavata, the patient has no coating on the tongue, no stiffness in the morning, pain increases on massage, there is more pain on exercising and the pain increases as the day moves on. For this type of pain, the patient should take more kadva or bitter food. Milk and milk products are extremely helpful with the exception of dahi. Smoking and drinking is extremely harmful to such a person, and cow's ghee is extremely beneficial to the same. Rest and day sleeping is beneficial to such a person. Ayurvedic medication is a must to improve the condition as it does not improve significantly on its own but is very easily cured compared to the other types of joint pain by ayurveda.

There are other diseases and reasons of joint pain which may be mentioned or explained here, but according to my experience most joint pains can be classified in the above.

Dr. Manaan Gandhi