Ayurvedic treatment for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis

Know More on Bone Diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Osteoarthritis Ayurvedic treatment

Osteoarthritis refers to a type of bone and joint problem in which a person suffering from it will have pains in joints. This happens due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the bones due to age or other factors. While any joint in the body can have osteoarthritis, usually it happens commonly in the joints of knees, hips, spinal column and hands.1

In Ayurveda, the symptoms similar to osteoarthritis are described under the header of Sandhigata vata. This happens due to vitiation of vata dosha, mostly due to jara (old age). This vitiated vata settles in the joint space causing swelling and pain in the joint. Due to which there is restriction in the movements of the joints.  2

Sandigata vata /osteoarthritis can be due to degenerative changes or due to obstruction of channels (Strotas).

Causes

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused due to damage of the cartilages of the ends of the bones. This damage generally occurs due to multiple factors primarily being increasing age. Apart for age, other factors that cause the damage to cartilage are1

  • Obesity: By putting extra pressure on joints
  • Female gender: Due to certain hormones
  • Joint trauma: Leading to deformities
  • Older age

Symptoms

Osteoarthritis

The signs and symptoms of Osteoarthritis develop slowly and over a long period of time. These include:1

  • Pain in joints, especially during movements
  • Tenderness or swelling in joints
  • Stiffness in joints, especially in mornings or after long rest
  • Unable to make full range movement
  • Grating sound from joints

Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis

Your doctor will diagnose your condition by performing a physical examination and understanding your pain related complaints. Your doctor will also check your movements and see how restrictive they are. Additionally, some tests may help confirm the diagnosis and understand the severity of the condition. These include:1

  • X rays: Mostly used to view the joint structure and deformities
  • MRI scans: Used in rare cases to understand the deformities well

Management

Osteoarthritis

Since osteoarthritis is a long-term disease and has no cure, there are a number of treatment options available to manage its symptoms and improve your quality of life. These include:3

  • Lifestyle changes- such as regular physical activities like walking and range of motion exercises to help maintain and improve the flexibility of the joints and reduce stiffness
  • Pain medicines – pain relievers such as paracetamol, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids
  • Physiotherapy exercises
  • Surgery to repair or replace damaged joints, especially hips and knees
  • Use of assistive devices like canes, walkers, sticks, assistive shoes, etc

Ayurveda recommends holistic treatment for osteoarthritis. These include2,4:

  • Snehana (oleation) – administering ghee, herbal oil, animal fat or bone marrow to expel the imbalanced dosha out of the body
  • Swedana (fomentation) – application of hot, moist substances to heal pain
  • Herbs – Ashwagandha, Bhallataka, Chitraka, Eranda, Gokshura, Guggulu, Rasna, etc

Additionally, Ayurveda also recommends a combination of healthy diet (ahar) and lifestyle changes (vihar) in order to manage osteoarthritis effectively. These include:2

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Consume healthy foods including nuts, dairy etc. in diet containing Calcium, Phosphorous
  • Langhanam (dieting) to reduce weight helps in reducing the burden on joints
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, packaged foods and junk food

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Follow a systematic daily way of life (Dincharya)
  • Avoid activities that cause both mental and physical stress
  • Avoid excessive exercise and physical activities
  • Proper Sleep
  • Avoid suppressing your urges (vegavidharan) to urinate, defecate, etc
  • Indulge in light exercises such as walking and swimming
  • Regularly practice yoga. Some asanas that help maintain range of movements include:

                              

Virabhadrasana                   Baddha konasana            Utthita Parshvakonasana             Uttanasana 

FAQS

Osteoarthritis
  1. What is Osteoarthritis? How is it caused?

Osteoarthritis refers to a type of bone and joint problem in which a person suffering from it will have pains in joints. This happens due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the bones due to age or other factors. While any joint in the body can have osteoarthritis, usually it happens commonly in the joints of knees, hips, spinal column and hands.

Osteoarthritis is caused due to damage of the cartilages of the ends of the bones. This damage generally occurs due to multiple factors primarily being increasing age. Apart for age, the other factors that cause the damage to cartilage are Obesity, female gender and trauma to the joint.

  1. What is Rheumatoid arthritis? How is it different from osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) refers to an auto immune disorder where the body’s defense systems turn against the body and mainly affect the joints but may also severely affect the eyes, skin, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It generally manifests as pain in the joints along with swelling and difficulty in movements.

Unlike osteoarthritis which affects the weight bearing joints, RA affects any and most joints of the body. It generally presents with swelling (hot swollen joints) as a cardinal feature and also shows some systemic manifestations (such as affects the eyes, skin, lungs, heart etc) unlike OA.

  1. What is osteoporosis? How is it recognized?

Osteoporosis refers to the condition where the bone becomes weak. Instead of the strong tissue that support the body structure, bones become brittle from inside and are capable of breaking with a minor jerk or fall. This leads to fractures in the hands, hips and legs with minor falls or injuries.

It can be recognized based on specific signs and symptoms and a BMD test. Symptoms are as follows -

  • Easily having a bone fracture
  • Pain in the back
  • Height becomes lesser than usual
  • A dropping posture
  1. What first aid should I offer to a person with a fracture?

If you witness a person developing fracture, take these actions immediately -

  • Urgently call for medical help or arrange for an ambulance
  • Stop any bleeding if there is an open wound. This can be done by applying pressure with a clean cloth or tight bandaging.
  • Avoid moving the injured area.
  • Apply ice packs to the injured part
  • If the person faints of is short of breath, put their head at a lower side and legs at a higher angle
  1. How does one know if a child has rickets?

The signs and symptoms of rickets are as follows –

  • Crooked or bow shaped legs
  • Thick joints of hands and feet
  • Protruded chest bone
  • A delay in growth milestones
  • Muscular weakness
  1. How does one have a dislocated joint?

Dislocations are usually caused due to a trauma or as a sports injury. Falls associated with contact sports such as football, basketball etc can lead to a dislocation.

Additionally, a fall on the outstretched hand and trauma due to a motor accident, too can cause dislocation.

  1. What is a Tennis elbow? How is it caused?

Tennis elbow refers to the pain in elbow due to swelling of the tendons which may occur due to repetitive movements of the wrists. Unlike the name suggests, the condition affects non-athletes as well.

It is caused due to overuse of the tendons resulting in a muscle strain injury. Any activity that requires repeated motions of the elbow and wrists can cause tiny injuries in the tendons leading to tennis elbow.

  1. What is frozen shoulder and how is it caused?

Frozen shoulder refers to a condition where the shoulder seems to be frozen in its movements. This condition cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder and restricts any kinds of movements. Medically, this condition in also known as adhesive capsulitis.

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not understood, it is believed to be caused due to a swelling of the joints covering called as capsule. This may happen due to long periods of immobility or trauma to the underlying nerve.

  1. How does a hip get fractured?

Generally hip fractures can be caused because of a trauma due to accident, falls, injuries or rarely violence. Hip fracture is very common in the elderly as it often happens due to a fall from height or sometimes even with twisting of the foot in people with weak bones. Younger people often have hip fracture as an outcome of a motor vehicle accident.

  1. What is meant by slipped disc?

A slipped disc refers to the swelling in the cushion between two bones, most commonly the vertebra (individual bones of the spine). This cushion is supposed to provide mobility and flexibility to the spine. This cushion between the vertebra is called as a disc and is filed with a gel like substance that provides the flexibility.

Slipped disc is the swelling of this disc which causes pain and obstructs mobility of the spine. A swelling in the cushion leads to some of the gel in the disc to protrude out between the bones.

References

Osteoarthritis
  1. Mayo clinic. Osteoarthritis. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/home/ovc-20198248 accessed Sept 17th 2016
  2. Gupta PK et al. Clinical evaluation of Boswellia serrata (Shallaki) resin in the management of Sandhivata (osteoarthritis). AYU 2011;32:478-82
  3. Osteoarthritis treatment. Arthritis Foundation. Available at http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/osteoarthritis/treatment.php accessed Sept 21st 2016
  4. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopaedia: Natural secrets to healing, prevention and longetivity. 2005

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment of bone-diseases and/or osteoarthritis without consulting the doctor. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime. "While we have products /ayurvedic medicines for bone-diseases and/or osteoarthritis, you must consult an authorized physician before taking any of the products. For more information on products, visit www.dabur.com or call 1800-103-1644"