Osteoarthritis is known as Sandhivata in Ayurveda. In the word Sandhivata, Sandhi means the joint and Vata stands for the Vata Dosha. When activities of the Vata increase inside the Sandhis (joints), it is known as the Sandhivata. Vata is dry in nature so it absorbs the fluids from any part of the body and it is also destructive or catabolic in nature, due to these two reasons Vata causes destruction of the cartilages and reduction in the Synovial fluid inside the joint capsule.
How does Vata get increased in OsteoArthritis?
- Excessive consumption of cold, dry food like bread
- excessive sexual intercourse
- not sleeping in the night
- taking food in a very small quantity
- excessive exercise/ body movements such as running jumping etc
- emaciation due to worry, grief or diseases
- sleeping in uneven beds
- sitting in odd postures
- day sleep
- suppression of natural urges
- excessive fasting
- falling down from heights or moving objects.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
- Being overweight – Obesity is one among the major causes for osteoarthritis. Extra weight puts added stress on weight-bearing joints, such as your hips and knees.
- Nutritional deficiency – Lack of vitamin-D also contributes to osteoarthritis.
- Increased Joint stress – Prolonged use of high heels increases risk of developing osteoarthritis in women. Athletes and dancers who are involved in aggressive training are also at more risk.
- Age – As age progress joint cartilages wear off leading to osteoarthritis.
- Genetics – Some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.
- Joint injuries – Injuries, such as those that occur when playing sports or from an accident, may increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Bone deformities – Some people are born with malformed joints or defective cartilage, which can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Other diseases. Having diabetes or other rheumatic diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of osteoarthritis.
- Gender- Usually females are more prone to osteoarthritis after 55 years of age.
Signs and symptoms
- Pain – You may experience sharp pain or burning sensation in the joints. Pain may be constant whole day or may occur during walking or any joint movements or while you sleep if arthritis is very worse.
- Tenderness – You may experience pain on applying pressure over the joint.
- Stiffness – You may feel your joints are stiff while getting up in the morning or after sitting for a long time or after certain period of inactivity.
- Muscle weakness – The muscles around the joint may get weaker, especially in arthritis of the knee.
- Swelling – Usually swelling does not occur in osteoarthritis. Occasionally you may notice mild swelling if there is inflammation.
- Joint deformity – When arthritis gets worse your joints lose their natural shape.
- Decreased mobility – The natural movements in the joint will be reduced gradually. As your arthritis gets worse, you may not be able to fully bend, flex, or extend your joints or you may not be able to use them at all. Decreased use of joints due to pain further reduces the range of mobility.
- Cracking or grating sensation – Your joints may make cracking or creaking or grating sounds on movement.
- Insomnia – The pain and stiffness of arthritis can disrupt your sleep. Deprivation of sleep worsens the pain in the morning.
- Spinal stenosis – Osteoarthritis of vertebra causes narrowing of space around spinal cord causing compression over spinal nerves. This pressure causes pain, weakness, numbness or abnormal sensation.
- Spur formation – There may be extra growth of bone around the affected joint, which will feel like a hard lump near the joint.
Ayurvedic treatment of Osteoarthritis not only prevents further deterioration in the joints but also rejuvenates damaged cartilages. Vata-alleviating treatments through specific herbs are also suggested for lubrication and strengthening of joints.
Physical examination of your joints by a physician, X-ray or MRI will confirm osteoarthritis.
Modern Management of Osteoarthritis
In modern medicine there is no cure for osteoarthritis, treatments are available to manage symptoms such as pain, stiffness and swelling, but they cannot prevent joint degeneration.
- Analgesics, NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs), corticosteroids are prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.
- Cortisone shots – Injections of corticosteroid medications may relieve pain in your joint.
- Surgery – When conservative treatments fail, surgery is recommended. Joint replacement surgery is done to replace severely damaged joint.
Limitations of modern treatments
- Use of analgesics and NSAIDs can cause stomach upset, ringing in your ears, cardiovascular problems, bleeding problems, and liver and kidney damage.
- Use of corticosteroids will relieve the pain but worsen joint damage over time.
- Surgical risks include infections and blood clots. Artificial joints can wear out or come loose and may need to eventually be replaced. Repeat joint replacements are more challenging and less successful than the original surgery.
- Fresh cooked and hot food should be consumed in regular diet.
- Hot soups of lentils, pulses and meat should be taken with powder of ginger, black pepper and long pepper added to them.
- Ghee and oils in moderate amount are necessary in daily diet, as these keep the normal joints properly lubricated and also provide lubrication to the dried up joints.
- Bone soup is highly beneficial in this condition.
- juice of sour fruits are beneficial.
- Avoid taking potatoes, peas, chick peas, cabbage, and cauliflower
Avoid intake spicy, deep fried food items, cold food and drinks. Also, avoid intake of suppression of natural urges and night outs.All the spicy, deep fried and very oily and pungent food recipes should be avoided, since these are believed to cause damage to the degenerated joints.
- Roast and crush a handful of fenugreek seeds, take 2 tsp of this powder and add water to make a thick paste. Apply on the affected area
- Massage the affected areas with luke warm sesame oil or mustard oil added with powdered camphor.
- You can also fry two garlic cloves in two tablespoons of mustard or sesame oil. When the garlic cloves turn black, turn off the heat and strain the oil. Allow the oil to cool until it is comfortably warm, and then massage it into the skin around affected area. Leave it on for about three hours before washing it off. Do this twice daily until you see improvement. You may also add camphor to this oil
Panchakarma play an important role in the management of osteoarthritis. Following are the procedures which are very effective in osteoarthritis. Duration of procedure ranges from 7 days to 1 month.
- Abhyanga – It includes full body massage and local massage over the affected joints with specific medicated oils. Abhyanga improves circulation around the affected joints, pacifies vata thus reduces the pain and strengthens the muscles and joints.
- Janu basti – It is the procedure in which specific medicated oil with specific temperature is made to stand over the affected joint, inside masha pisti for 30 minutes. Janu basti restores the lubricating fluid in the joint and maintain integrity of the structures involved in the joint, Protects knee joints from age related changes, increases blood circulation; thus strengthens and nourishes the knee joints, and improves the mobility of the knee joints.
- Upanaha or Lepa – Application of medicated paste over the joint and wrapped with bandage. Paste is retained for 8-10 hours. Lepa helps to maintain warmness around the joint like a hot pack. It reduces joint stiffness, pain and relaxes muscle around the joint. Lepa should not be done when in acute pain.
- Sveda – It is nothing but fomentation by nadi sweda or patra pinda sweda or churna pinda sweda. The effect of sveda is similar to that of lepa.
- Virechana – Virechana helps in elimination of vitiated doshas and vata anulomana. Thus restores the equilibrium in the body.
- Basti – Basti has a commendable role in management of osteoarthritis. It includes Ksheera basti and anuvasana basti. In ksheera basti, milk is the main ingredient and oil in anuvasana basti along with other medicines. These nutrients are absorbed through the gut wall and nourishes the degenerated joints.
- Agnikarma- Medical Cauterization is done to manage pain.
Hence , I would recommend you to consult an Ayurvedic doctor personally and get these external treatment procedures done.
Ayurvedic medicine for osteoarthritis are:
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- Maharasnadi kashayam, Dashamoola kashayam, Dhanwantara kashayam,- Reduces pain and other associated complaints of osteoarthritis.
- Yogaraja guggulu, panchatikta ghrita guggulu and shallaki, Zeotone- Reduces pain and inflammation.
- Ksheera bala taila, Narayana taila, Gandha taila – does lubrication to joints.
- Ashwagandha, Bala, Arjuna, Laksha, shatavari ksheera paka are given to reduce joint degeneration and also strengthen the joints. The herbs boswellia, turmeric, ashwagandhaha, ginger, triphala and gugguluhave all been shown to decrease inflammation by interfering with the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.
Yogasanas Which Are Beneficial in Osteoarthritis
1. Ardha chakrasana
3. Pada hastasana
Importance of Exercise in Osteoarthritis
- Improving joint mobility and flexibility – One of the most beneficial ways to manage osteoarthritis is to get moving. Simple activities help to improve joint strength, reduce stiffness and manages pain. Even simple activities like walking, easy exercise can reduce pain and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Muscle strength – Strengthening the muscles around the affected joint by exercise helps to reduce the stress, stiffness and pain. Improves joint stability and flexibility.
- Weight Management – Excess weight adds additional stress to weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees, feet and back. Losing weight can help people with osteoarthritis to reduce pain and limit further joint damage. The basic rule for losing weight is to eat appropriately and increase physical activity.
- Stretching – Slow, gentle stretching of joints may improve flexibility, lessen stiffness and reduce pain. Exercises such as yoga are great ways to manage stiffness.