Ayurvedic treatment for Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Know More on Bone Diseases

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

Definition

Osteoporosis  Ayurvedic treatment

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become 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.1

In Ayurveda, osteoporosis is relatable to the description of asti kshaya (degeneration of the bones). The reason for asti kshaya is increase in the vata dosha. Vata dosha’s seat in the body is considered to be asti dhatu (bone tissue) and any increase in the vata will lead to decrease of the bone tissue (Asthi dhatu).2

Causes

Osteoporosis

The bones are always in a continuous stage of reforming and replacing the old tissue with the new. For many reasons, the balance of breakdown of older tissue and formation of new bone tissue becomes skewed. In Osteoporosis, the old tissue breakdown occurs at a faster pace than the new replacement – leading to weak bones. 1

Several conditions increase the risk of osteoporosis, such as:1

  • Being a female
  • Small body size
  • Family history
  • Low calcium intake or poor calcium absorption in body
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Thyroid problems
  • Side effects of certain medicines like corticosteroids

Symptoms

Osteoporosis

The signs and symptoms of Osteoporosis develop only when bones have been completely weakened. These include:1

  • Easily getting a bone fracture
  • Pain in the back
  • Height becomes lesser than usual
  • A dropping posture

Diagnosis

Osteoporosis

Your doctor will generally suspect your osteoporosis based on your symptoms (easy fractures, bad posture, etc), your age (old age) and gender (female). In order to check how easily your bones are likely to break, measuring your bone density is important and is usually the base for all osteoporosis diagnostic tests.2,3

Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic test to confirm osteoporosis. These include:3

  • DEXA Scan – it is the most common test that uses dual X-rays to measure your spine, hip or total bone density to access your risk of fractures
  • Ultrasound - Imaging technique that uses sound waves to check your affected area
  • Quantitative computed tomography - imaging test to look for the affected region and determine how severe your osteoporosis is
  • Blood or urine tests – to measure metabolism of bones
  • Bone densitometry – similar to X-rays and measures density of bones

Management

Osteoporosis

Since osteoporosis is a difficult condition to reverse, there are a number of treatment options available to manage its symptoms and improve your quality of life. These include:4

  • Diet therapy – Calcium rich nutrition should be ensured. Along with it, diet rich in vitamin D as well as Vitamin D supplements are recommended
  • Hormone replacement therapy – For preventing and treating osteoporosis in women, either estrogen alone or a combination of estrogen and progestin are used
  • Medicines – These include estrogen supplements, medicines that stop cells from breaking down bone, medicines to improve bone strength and reduce fractures, hormones to stop bone loss, etc

Ayurveda recommends holistic treatment for osteoporosis which involves avoiding factors that lead to the vitiation of vata dosha that ultimately lead to worsening of the condition. These include:2,5

  1. Shodhana therapy - Shodhana is a purification therapy. The aggravated Doshas from the body are expelled out in this procedure, thereby eliminating the internal causative factors of the disease. Metabolic process causes generation of large quantities of toxic byproducts in the body. Toxins deposited in various tissues vitiate Dosha, Dhatu etc and thereby causes diseases. Shodhana therapy removes toxins from body and restores the equilibrium of Dosha. Shodhana therapy consists of a three-stage purification process as follows:2,5
  • Purva Karma – preparatory purification prior to the main purification
  • Pradhana Karma – the main five purification methods (known as Panchakarma treatment)
  • Paschath Karma – post rejuvenation therapy
  1. Shamana therapy – it is a palliative therapy to normalize the doshas rather than expelling them from the body. Shamana can be external treatment (Bahya samshamana) like application of herbal pastes, showering with medicinal liquids, tub bath in medicinal liquids, herbal oil massage, oil pooling over the head, oral rinsing, gargling, oil pulling etc. It can also be mild internal treatment (Aabhyantara samshamana) like medicines that digest toxins, fat scraping procedures, aphrodisiacs, anti-toxins to nullify poisons, immune modulation, bulk promoting treatments, etc

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

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Consume healthy foods including nuts, dairy etc in diet
  • 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
  • Avoid suppressing your urges (vegavidharan) to urinate, defecate, etc
  • Indulge in light exercises such as walking and swimming

FAQS

Osteoporosis
  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

Osteoporosis
  1. Mayo clinic. Osteoporosis. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/home/ovc-20207808 accessed on Sept 17th 2016
  2. Devangi L. Prevention and Management of Osteoporosis. IAMJ. Mar 2016; Vol. 4(4): 637-42
  3. Osteoporosis Health Center: Diagnosis & Tests. Web MD. Available at http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/osteoporosis-diagnosis-tests accessed Sept 21st 2016
  4. Understanding osteoporosis: diagnosis and treatment. Web MD. Available at http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/guide/understanding-osteoporosis-treatment accessed Sept 21st 2016
  5. M, Ayurveda- Secrets of Healing, 1995, Lotus Press, USA - https://books.google.co.in/books?id=fAQOSU1QPc8C&pg=PR14&lpg=PR14&dq=shamana+therapy+ayurveda&source=bl&ots=2ORoME2XFu&sig=QCW1aW6FTk4SbnJLDJ91tKwhKh0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjAhM2ir4LPAhXBLY8KHQqZAccQ6AEIhgEwEA#v=onepage&q=shamana%20therapy%20ayurveda&f=false

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