Knee pain is very common and can be cause due to various reasons. The most common cause is the accumulation of endotoxins (Ama) in the knee joints and constant wear and tear leads to inflammation in the knee joints over the period of time.
Wear and tear increase Vata Dosha and cause weakness and poor nourishment of the joints. This can lead to discomfort in knees and crackling sound while walking or on movement. On the other hand, endotoxins block the movement of Vata and affect the nutrition to the joints causing heaviness and stiffness of the joints. This in turn leads to swollen and painful joints.
The following tips will help ease knee pain and improve knee strength.
Physical activity – Physical activity like walking, yoga and cycling helps to maintain healthy body weight and boosts the health of cartilage tissue.
Knee strengthening exercise – Strengthens the muscles thus protects the knee joint and prevents further damage to the knee.
Exercise 1 – Sit on a chair with proper back rest. Straighten and raise one leg horizontally and flex your toes inward. Hold the position for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat for 20 times. Do the same in the other leg too.
Exercise 2 – Lie on your back on the bed & place a thick cushion or a towel roll under one knee. Try to push it downwards by squashing it & hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat for 20 times. Do the same on the other leg too.
Posture – Avoid sitting on floor or on couches or low chairs. Avoid prolonged sitting or long stationary standing.
Healthy diet – As muscles hold the bones and support in movement, improving muscle strength is important. Include vegetarian source of protein in daily diet, like beans, lentils, tofu, milk as they help to improve muscle strength. Avoid excess intake of citric fruit juices, refined sugar, salads as they will increase inflammation.
Massaging the knee – Heat 50 ml of sesame oil in a pan, add 1 tsp of Ajwain (Bishop’s weed) and remove from fire when the oil becomes hot. When the oil is comfortably warm, filter the oil using a cloth filter. Now sit on the bed or on the floor with legs stretched. Take oil on your hand and apply on the knee gently and massage using the fingers of your hand in circular motion for 2 – 3 minutes without applying too much pressure. Then apply some oil on the behind of the knee and massage gently using four fingers.
Bandage – Mix 1 tsp each of curcuma, ginger and mustard seed powder. Add warm water to it and mix well to make a paste. Apply this on the knee, place a square piece of cotton and tie a gauze bandage and leave it for 2 – 3 hours. Then remove the bandage and wash off the paste with warm water. This can be done once or twice a week. This helps to ease pain and inflammation.
Herbal infusion – Heat a cup of water and add 3 to 4 basil leaves, ¼ tsp dry ginger and 1/8 tsp curcuma. Let it steep for 5 to 7 minutes, then filter and drink warm. The phytochemicals in ginger, curcuma and basil helps with muscle and joint pain and inflammation. One can consume this once or twice a day. Prepare fresh everytime.
Hot fomentation – Heat reduces stiffness by relaxing the muscles. One can do hot compress using hot bottle or hot towel. However hot compress using salt bolus has better anti-inflammatory effect. Heat a pan, add ½ cup of salt in it and heat it. When the salt becomes hot, transfer it to a sterile cloth and tie it into a bundle. Apply and pat gently on the knees. When it cools down, heat the bundle on a hot pan and use it again.
Protection – Proper rest gives time for healing of the tissues. However, one cannot stop all movements as it may lead of muscle weakness and stiffness. Hence one should use knee cap for firm support and to increase comfort level.
Some herbs that are beneficial in knee pain –
Curcuma – The key ingredient curcumin present in curcuma has antioxidant effects and helps relieve pain.
Ginger – The heating property of ginger helps reduce pain, inflammation and swelling.
Guggulu – Helps eliminate the endotoxins, relieves inflammation and pain.
Ashwagandha – Has immunomodulatory effect, nourishes the bones and joints and rejuvenates them.
Shallaki – Strengthens the joints, relieves pain and swelling, improves the mobility of joints.
Dashmool – A combination of herbal roots of 10 plants which has anti-inflammatory and Vata balancing effect.
Ayurveda Therapies for Knee Pain
Janubasti – A wall like boundary is made from paste of black gram flour and warm medicated oil is retained inside it for a specific period of time.
Patra Pinda Swedana – Local fomentation using herbal leaf bolus dipped in oil.
Nadi Swedana – Following gentle oil application, steam vapors are exposed on the knees.
Knee pain is distressing and the above easy to follow tips, Ayurveda herbs and therapies will help strengthen the knee joint and other supporting structures and help ease knee pain in a natural way.