Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a form of arthritis that causes inflammation in the joints of the spine. The joints where the spine meets the pelvis are most affected. The condition may also affect areas where tendons and ligaments attach to bones.
Many people with AS experience stiffness and pain in the lower back. This pain may be sporadic and range in severity. These symptoms can progress into the upper spine.
Other symptoms vary from person to person and can include:
- loss of flexibility
- spinal fusion
- blurred vision
- sensitivity to light
- red, watery eyes
- eye pain
- reduced lung capacity
- difficulty breathing
- general unwell feeling
An association between inflammatory bowel disease, enteroarthritis and the spondyloarthropathies has been known for a while… and it now seems evident that chronic gut inflammation is either associated with or is even the cause of chronicity of peripheral arthritis and the development of ankylosing spondylitis.” ~ Finnish Rheumatology researcher Marjatta Leirisalo-Repo
According to Ayurveda, Ankylosing spondylitis is caused due to aggravated vata dosha. This imbalance causes degeneration &inflammation of the spine and may even lead to disability in the long term. The basic explanation for the disorder is that AS occurs due to an accumulation of ama or toxins in the body. Where ever ama deposits in the body, pain is caused. Ayurvedic treatments aim at digesting the ama by using herbs as medicine and balancing the aggravated vata.
Patients who suffer from spinal conditions and thus air aggravation are advised to add as many warm foods to their diet as they can. Spicy foods in particular bring heat to the spine and aid in blood circulation and spinal lubrication (the intensity of “spicy” however may vary from culture to culture, so only consume according to your tolerance levels). Vata-aggravating foods should be avoided. These include: cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms, beans, citruses .
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners believe that deficiency of blood and liver, and kidney Qi deficiency are the main reasons for the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The traditional Chinese medical diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is called painful bone impediment. It is seen to be due to outside environment factors including cold and wind invading through the pores on the skin and lodging in the bones (Du Channel) because depleted defensive energy in human body can not protect the body from those invasions.
Stretching and Yoga: “If you have ankylosing spondylitis, you need to stay active to maintain your flexibility,” says Rochella Ostrowski, MD, an associate professor in the division of allergy, immunology, and rheumatology at Loyola Medicine in Maywood, Illinois.
Practice good posture: Ostrowski recommends checking your posture frequently at home and at work. “Make sure you’re well-aligned and that you do gentle range-of-motion exercises often to avoid long periods of immobility,” she says. Reinforce good posture by regularly checking your alignment against a wall, she adds.
Get a therapeutic massage: when done with care and an understanding of the individual’s disease, professional massage therapy can reduce stress and may have some temporary positive impacts on pain, stiffness and flexibility.
Omega 3 fatty acids/Fish oil: as the name implies, comes from fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been used for centuries for a variety of muscular and skeletal diseases. “There is some evidence to support the use of omega-3s,” says Grant H. Louie, MD, a rheumatologist based in Maryland. “A small study out of Europe found that these supplements may benefit people with ankylosing spondylitis.”
White willow bark:contains salicin, a compound similar to aspirin. White willow bark has been used historically for pain and inflammation. Research studies comparing white willow bark to aspirin have demonstrated a comparable efficacy between the two products.
Curcumin/Turmeric: is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory, as well as to treat digestive disorders and enhance wound healing. Research has demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin. It is a famous Chinese medicine to relieve digestive and liver related diseases. Its anti- inflammatory properties make it a strong herb for various allergies, infections and inflammations. The herb has the power to fight against toxins and infections owing to its rich anti-biotic properties.
Boswellia: has anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic (pain relieving) properties.
EMBLICA OFFICINALIS (Amalaki): the herb is known for its rejuvenating properties. It is a natural antioxidant that removes free radicals from the body and helps in regeneration of cells. Amla helps in increasing the body vitality and strengthening immunity. It aids digestion by soothing hyperacidity. It helps to keep the intestine clean and also controls blood sugar.
WITHANIA SOMNIFERA (ASHWAGANDHA): the ancient Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha is a multiple benefit herb. It was beneficial effects over the complete human body in a natural way. It is a great antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It helps to promote overall well-being of the body and nourishes it with strength and immunity. Apart from these, the herbal product has potential powers to nourish the brain to make the functioning of the brain quicker and sharper.
Rosehip: Dr Rod Hughes, a Consultant Rheumatologist at St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey, Surrey said:“The evidence supporting the benefits of specialised rose-hip powder as a treatment for OA (osteoarthritis) appears to be consistent as further studies are produced. Patients who wish to try a natural remedy in addition to their prescribed treatment, exercise and weight control programmes, may, on the basis of this study, consider rose-hip supplements.” Rosehip has anti-inflammatory effects and can protect cartilage from damage, which may explain its ability to relieve osteoarthritis pain.
Borage oil: is one of the best sources for obtaining more GLA, it helps fill in this deficiency. GLA lower inflammation because it inhibits leukotriene synthesis, which is partly responsible for raising autoimmune reactions and thrombotic effects. For this reason, borage oil is now used for its role in lowering symptoms of various inflammatory and age-related disorders, including arthritis, atopic eczema and respiratory disorders. People taking anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids along with borage oil treatments seem to have even better results.
Black cumin seed oil: may help soothe achy joints. In one study, women with aching joints who were given a 500-mg dose of black seed oil capsules twice a day experienced a positive impact on swollen joints and morning joint stiffness. Another more recent study found that women who took the oil had lower blood levels of certain inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein.
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