Arthritis – Osteoarthritis

Definition:

A degenerative joint disease due to the lack of lubricating (Synovial) fluid in the joints,  leading to the damage to cartilage, bone, joint capsule, ligaments and muscles.

In Ayurveda, this medical condition is described as Sandhi Vata. It is a Vata Dosha disorder affecting joints, mainly Knees, hips, spine (neck and lower back) and joints in the hands. The imbalanced Vata dries up the Kapha (Synovial fluid-Shleshak Kapha) in the joints. This causes roughening of the smooth surfaces of the joints and later, bone rubs on bone and movements become painful.

The disease gradually worsens if not properly taken care of. There is no known cure for this disease in any system of medicine. Most of the modern medical treatments, although give relief from pain, will cause different kinds of side effects.

However, Ayurvedic treatment for Osteoarthritis does not cause any side effects and gives longer lasting results. In advanced cases, surgical procedures such as joint replacements relieve pain and provide mobility

Symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. They include:

  • Pain.
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility.
  • Grating sensation.
  • Bone spurs.

Risk factors for osteoarthritis

  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Constitutional factors – Vata constitution.
  • Ageing process – Vata period of life-After the age of 50 years
  • Female,
  • Obesity.
  • Repeated joint injury – fall injuries / occupational health hazards

Common approaches and medications in modern medicine:

  • Rest
  • Lose weight
  • Exercise
  • Apply heat and cold
  • Over the counter pain creams
  • Use assistive devices

Drugs:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Narcotics

Therapy:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Braces or shoe inserts
  • Chronic pain class

Surgical and other procedures:

  • Cortisone injections to the joints
  • Arthroscopic shaving of the roughened joint surfaces
  • Joint replacements
  • Surgeries on the spine such as spinal fusion

Alternative therapies:

  • Thai chi
  • Acupuncture
  • Glucosamine

Surprisingly, people in most parts of the world have not recognised one of the most ancient and powerful systems, Ayurvedic treatment for Osteoarthritis. The Ayurvedic approach gives excellent results when treated at regular intervals with the detox (Panchakarma) and rejuvenating therapies combined with internal medications. The lifestyle modifications with Yoga and Ayurvedic diet will significantly increase the quality of life by reducing pain. We receive patients from over 50 countries and many come each year regularly. Undergoing Ayurveda therapies once a year will give excellent relief. In very advanced cases surgery may be the only option and patients are advised accordingly.

Principles behind Ayurvedic treatments is to balance Vata and nourish the Kapha in the joints.

Therapies include:

  • Panchakarma…Basti, Virechana
  • External therapies, Abhyanga, Patra Pinda Sweda, Navarakkizi, Dhara, Lepa, Basti, Pichu
  • Internal medications,

Activities:

  • Yoga, Pranayama (Breathing techniques), Physiotherapy, Aqua Yoga

Internal medications:

  • Combinations of herbs, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus ), Bala (Sida Cordifolia) , Eranda (Ricinus Communis) , Medicated ghee, Sallaki ( Boswellia serrata) , Guggulu (Commiphora muku).

Food and lifestyle changes:

  • Specific to the individual’s constitution, nature of work and geographical conditions.