Joint pain can trigger in children and elderly due to a number of causes ranging from diseases and deficiencies to major or minor injuries. The intensity of joint pain does not only depend on its cause, but also on the environment that the individual is situated in. Climatic and weather conditions play a major role in determining the intensity of joint pain. Sometimes, it is the weather condition itself that becomes the cause of such pains. Joint pains become more frequent and intense in cold and dry weather. Joint aches that once were caused by an old injury tend to resurface during winters.
One of the reasons why joint pains become frequent during winters is that during colder weather, the body tends to conserve heat and send more blood to the organs located at the center of the body, such as the heart, and the lungs. Due to this, the blood vessels that are concentrated around the joints, arms, and legs constrict thereby making the joints stiff and their movement difficult. Another reason could be that during cold weathers the barometric pressure (weight of the air) changes and triggers an inflammatory response in the joint due to changes in blood circulation. Knee joint pain is the one that becomes most frequent during winters.
Joint pains can be treated by either oral consumption of certain pain relieving pills to numb the pain or vitamins to enhance bone density and cure the pain, or they can be treated by the application of oils and regular massages. From the aforementioned causes of winter joint pains, winter stiffness can be best treated by oils that produce a warm effect on application.
Ayurveda offers a variety of oils to relieve joint pain. They usually produce warmth, and a tingling sensation that enhances blood flow. Some of the commonly found ingredients in Ayurvedic oils for joint pain relief are eucalyptus oil, menthol, wintergreen oil, sesame seed oil, black seed oil, linseed oil, mustard oil, turmeric, tulsi (basil) extracts, ginger extracts, ashwagandha, garlic, banyan, and camphor. Out of these ingredients, turmeric, ginger, and ashwagandha are ideal for relieving knee joint pain.
There are various techniques involved in Ayurveda for the treatment of joint pain. They are as follows-
- Pizhichil– this technique involves oil massages that produce a soothing effect. A cloth is dipped in hot natural oils which is then run over the individual’s body.
- Abyanga– This technique involves a full body massage. The herbal oils are selected based on the individual’s body type, his or her medical condition, and weather. The duration of the massage and pressure depend upon the severity of joint pain. The therapy helps in reducing stiffness by improving blood circulation, and draining the toxins.
- Navarakizhi– This is a hot press method. A linen bag filled with cooked rice is used as a hot press. The rice is cooked with milk, and herbal oils. This helps in strengthening the joints and increasing blood circulation.
- Podikizhi– For this technique, Ayurvedic leaves and herbs are treated with oils to enhance their medicinal benefits. The infused oil is then massaged in rhythmic motions.
- Kati Vasti– Warm Ayurvedic oils are slowly poured over the affected joint through a canal that drains the oil at the joint. This technique is commonly used to relief knee joint pain.
- Pichu– A thick layer of cotton soaked in warm medicated oil is used to massage the affected area. The oil is constantly kept over heat and the cotton is repeatedly dipped. This technique is never carried out with cold oil.
All of the above Ayurvedic techniques will certainly be effective in treating joint pains triggered by winter as they involve use of oils that are warm while aiming at increased blood circulation.