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Cartilage is a fine, rubbery elastic tissue that acts as cushion between the bones in the joint spaces. It is a connective tissue and enables the joints to move freely and smoothly. It acts as a shock absorber and reduces the friction between the joints. This cartilage could either be damaged as a result of injury or degeneration as part of normal ageing process. Either of this causes friction during joint movement, causing painful, stiff movements and in some cases, even swelling of the joint spaces.
There is also a covering around the joints known as synovium. When there is a cartilage damage, this synovium is irritated, leading to increased secretion of synovial fluid, which can cause swelling in joints. There is also reduction in the range of motion of the affected joint.
Most commonly affected joints include knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and ankles. Other than degeneration that happens with ageing, cartilage damage is mainly caused by injury or trauma including fall/impact, joint dislocation, infection, ligament tear, meniscus tear, and inflammation (gout, arthritis, etc.)
Read on to know some of the most common causes for cartilage damage and ways to manage it.
Age and trauma are the main reasons for cartilage damage.
Direct blow: A heavy blow directly to any joint leads to damage (accident, sports injury, etc.).
Ageing: With constant wear and tear, joints that are under constant stress are prone for damage.
Obesity: This is also a common cause leading to chronic inflammation and breakdown of the joints.
Limited mobility: For whatever reasons (including sedentary lifestyle), lack of movement can cause cartilage damage.
The presenting symptoms of a person with any affected joint would be pain, discomfort and stiffness with movement. In addition to history and physical examination, MRI and arthroscopy can be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Start with a conservative approach and gradually switch to more advanced treatments. Conservative approach includes a combination of pain killers, steroid injections, and exercise (at a clinic or at home). If these do not work, the following surgical options are available:
Debridement: The affected cartilage is smoothened and the loose edges are removed to prevent rubbing and irritation. It is done using a shaver.
Marrow Stimulation: Using the marrow cells, more cartilage production is stimulated. Using tiny drills, holes are drilled to form a blood clot, which triggers formation of new cartilage.
Mosaicplasty: In areas of localized damage, healthy cartilage from an unaffected area is placed.
Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation: Cartilage that is grown in a lab for one to three months are placed into the knee or affected joint to allow for healthy tissue growth.
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Are you suffering from skeletal and muscular disorders and are looking for an effective remedy? You can opt for Thaila Dhara or Pizhichil treatment. This is an Ayurvedic therapy which is effective for curing skeletal and muscular disorders. The term Pizhichil refers to squeezing. The procedure involves the squeezing of warm, medicated oil from a cloth. It is followed by a massage of the entire body except for the head. This procedure is performed by three or more Ayurvedic therapists and it requires more than three liters of medicated oil.
Indications for Pizhichil or Thaila Dhara
Other than muscular and skeletal disorders, this Ayurvedic therapy is also used for getting relief from several other health conditions. These include rheumatic diseases, vata dosha disorders, paralysis, arthritis, sexual weakness, insomnia, high blood pressure, depression, nervous weakness, neurological disorders, muscular aches and dislocated or stiff joints.
The procedure of Thaila Dhara involves several steps. First, the Ayurvedic therapist evaluates your prakruti, vikruti and dosha imbalance before prescribing the type of medicated oil to be used. Pizhichil is performed in seven standard body positions and no area is left out. First a light massage is given and then lukewarm medicated oil is squeezed on the patient’s body using a cloth. From time to time, the cloth is dipped in a vessel which contains the medicated oil. It takes one hour for the procedure to get completed. Based on your requirements, the frequency of the therapy is prescribed by your Ayurvedic physician.
Benefits of Thaila Dhara
There are several benefits of Thaila Dhara. They are as follows:
- It is an ideal therapy for treating vata imbalance.
- It helps in relieving body pains, inflammations and stiffness.
- The body gets detoxified and rejuvenated.
- The mind, body and soul gets soothed.
- It is great for stress and anxiety relief.
- Blood circulation is improved drastically.
- Overall physical and mental health is improved.
- Muscular tone is enhanced.
- The entire nervous system is re-tuned and the nerves are strengthened.
- Fractured bones are healed and overall body immunity gets enhanced.
The different Ayurvedic medicated oils used in the procedure of Thaila Dhara include Sahacharadi thailam, Narayana thailam, Dhanwantharam thailam, Bala thailam and Prbhanjanavimardana thailam among others. In many cases, the medicated oils are combined together. The selection of oils should be done by your Ayurvedic physician. The course of Thaila Dhara treatment may be of 7 days, 14 days or more. This depends on your condition and requirements. You should strictly consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before thinking of undergoing Thaila Dhara treatment.