Ayurveda Treatment for Osteoarthritis
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH Osteoarthritis?
Arthritis is a condition affecting joints of the body leading to tenderness and swelling in one or more joints. Major symptoms are excessive pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints which gets heightened during cold weather. Arthritis is classified into three – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Gout. As the conditions are degenerative, there is no permanent cure for them. In Kerala, degenerative disorders were addressed as a combination of medications, physical therapies as well as lifestyle changes. Ayurveda Treatment for Osteoarthritis or Sandhivata focuses on Vata balancing therapies and medications to soothe the aggravated vata which causes joint pain.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
It is an autoimmune disorder that causes systemic inflammations due to an attack on the body’s tissues by its own immune system. The attack is aimed at the synovium, the tissue that acts as a lining to the bones, resulting in inflammation as well as tissue overgrowth. Rheumatoid arthritis is difficult to diagnose as the symptoms vary from person to person. Ayurveda provides the best ayurvedic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in India with a combination of dietary regimens, lifestyle changes, Herbal medications as well as detoxification procedures like Panchakarma.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects the knee, hips, spine and hand joints. The most affected part is cartilage which is a slippery tissue covering the edges of joint bones. For a person affected with osteoarthritis, the cartilage wears off gradually leaving the bones to rub against each other resulting in swelling and pain in the joints, thus making it difficult to move.
Ayurveda and Osteoarthritis
From an Ayurvedic perspective, osteoarthritis is called ‘Sandhivata’ as it is a result of aggravated Vata dosha. When Vata gets accumulated in weaker body parts, it causes swelling and joint pain. The Vata dosha is dry in nature. When it gets aggravated, it tends to absorb fluids from cartilage in the joints. Sandhivata is the resultant condition when Vata activities are increased in the joints causing discomforts. Ayurvedic treatment for osteoarthritis focuses on balancing the impaired Vata dosha.
- Injury in joints
- Increasing age
- Genetic disorder
- Cartilage deterioration
- Obesity – Excess body weight adds to discomforts to the joints. Increased body weight causes stress to the joints that bear the stress of carrying the weight around.
- Recurring stress on the joints – If the joint is put under stress repetitively, like long-standing or any sport can cause wear and tear which eventually lead to osteoarthritis.
- Injury to the joints – Joint injuries that are caused due to an accident or while playing sports can raise the chance of having osteoarthritis. Even old injuries can double your prospect of getting the condition.
- Metabolic disorders – Certain metabolic disorders can also result in osteoarthritis including diabetes and hemochromatosis, where the body ends up having too much iron.
- Extreme pain in joints while moving
- Crackling sound in joints and a grating sensation while moving
- Lack of flexibility or limited range of motion
- Feeling of stiffness in the joints after a while of rest
- With pain radiating from the back, there can be weakness or insensitivity of the arms and legs.
Various methods of analysis are used to diagnose Osteoarthritis, which includes Physical examination, Imaging, as well as fluid tests.
During the physical examination, the affected area is checked for swelling, tenderness and redness. While the imaging tests include MRI scans or X-Ray imaging which is helpful in diagnosing the injury and its extent. In fluid tests, joint fluid is extracted from the affected area using a needle and is analyzed to identify infection or inflammation which may be the reason for the pain. Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Ayurveda targets the affected joint and tries to control pain and inflammation.
In the ayurvedic treatment of osteoarthritis, the major concern is inflammation and swelling of joints which is the primary cause that is considered. With its safe yet effective herbal remedies, Ayurveda provides ease from discomfort caused by inflammation to people affected by the condition. The herbs used for the treatment of osteoarthritis are those that have proven anti-inflammatory properties. The herbs include:
Turmeric – Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, exhibits anti-inflammatory properties which is why it is considered in treating osteoarthritis.
Ginger – Ginger is also well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The active elements in ginger interfere with the enzyme that produces chemicals responsible for inflammation
Boswellia – The resin extract from the herb Boswellia is known to alleviate inflammation and joint pain.
Ashwagandha – Extracts of this ayurvedic herb has been found to suppress the molecules responsible for anti-inflammatory effects.
Triphala – Triphala is a formulation of the three herbs Amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki which in combination has anti-inflammation properties.
Studies have shown that a combination of herbs such as turmeric, Boswellia, zinc and ashwagandha have shown a remarkable increase in strength as well as mobility. Moreover, it has been reported to ease joint pains to a good extent.
Ayurvedic Approach Towards Arthritis
While considering the ayurvedic treatment for arthritis in knee, it needs to be understood that according to Ayurveda, any ailment is a result of dosha imbalance and hence the focus is on balancing the doshas. Hence detoxification treatments that stimulate toxin removal from the body involving mild seating are included in the treatment plan. External treatment involving the special knee joint massage called ‘Janu Basti’ by bathing the knee in warm medicated oil or herbal decoction is performed to relieve knee pain.
Can Ayurveda Cure Osteoarthritis?
Ayurveda is called the science of self-healing as it approaches ailments considering the importance of physical, emotional as well as spiritual healing and well being. Each treatment plan in Ayurveda, for any ailment, is focused on finding the root cause of the problem and assisting the body in reigniting its digestive fire as well as stimulating the healing ability inherent to one’s own body to get rid of any sort of discomfort that hinders our normal life. A healthy body is where body, mind and spirit are well balanced. Along with the detoxification therapies performed to ease the bodily discomforts, Yoga and meditation are included in the treatment regimen to achieve the balance of body, mind and spirit altogether.