Osteoarthritis or Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis among the elderly. It occurs when the articular cartilage between the joints damaged, consequently degenerates the underlying bone because of the friction. This deteriorates the tendons, meniscus and muscles attached to the joints; which means the overall joint health is affected. Since the already weakened joints/tendons are being used consistently as we do our daily chores, inflammation can occur in the joints.
- Joint pain,
- crackling sound from joints (Crepitus),
- Limited joint movements etc.
- Old age,
- obesity (weight gain),
- frequent usage of a particular joint,
- Joint injuries (fractures, ligament tears etc.)
- Certain jobs that require prolonged hours of standing,
- lifting of heavy weights,
- Repetitive bending
All these can cause significant wear and tear of cartilages. Joint diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and some other metabolic disorders can also lead to Osteoarthritis.
In Ayurveda, this disease is called as ‘Sandhigata Vatha’ (Sandhi means joint)
As you know, Ayurveda states that there are three major bio-energies called Vatha, Pitha and Kapha which governs all the bodily functions. Any imbalance in these can cause a disease condition. Osteoarthritis is caused by excess aggravation of Vatha dosha in the body especially the joints.
Major underlying reasons are weakened digestive fire (Agni) and resultant accumulation of toxins (Ama) in the body. Errant lifestyle, improper diet etc. can weaken the digestive system, because of which the elimination of intrinsic toxins becomes difficult. Buildup of these toxins in the body (joints in this case) leads to the imbalance of Vatha Dosha.
Vatha is dry and destructive in nature. As age advances, the influence of Vatha in the body is high and it depletes a lot of fluid part from the body. This also includes the depletion of Synovial fluid (lubricant in the synovial capsule, between the bones), moisture from the cells of cartilages, also from related muscles and tendons which results in the progressive erosion of the joint. This causes the articulating bones to come in contact between each other too often, causing over growth of joint margins – called as Osteophytes.
- Citrus fruits
- Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids(tuna, salmon)
- Green tea
- Low fat dairy products
- Plant based oils from olives, walnut, safflower etc.
Ayurvedic view of management.
The main target is to reduce the influence of Vatha in the body and increase the Kapha ( which is present in the joint called sleshaka kapha) so that the joint spaces are lubricated adequately for proper movement. This is done primarily by strengthening the Agni( digestive power) and detoxifying the whole body. After attaining proper agni, medicines and procedures which strengthens the muscle support around the joints are given. Certain medicines which help to regain the normal functioning of the joints are as follows.
- Maharasnadi kashayam
- Rasna saptakam kashayam
- Gugguluthiktakam kashayam
- Yogaraja guggulu
- Thryodasanga guggulu
- Gandha taila
- Bala taila
- Ksheerabala taila
- Kottamchukkadi oil
- Pinda oil
- Karpasastyadi oil
- Prabhanjanam oil
All these medicines depend upon the involvement of different doshas and present situation of the patient. Also his/ her prakrithi also is important in choosing the medicine.
Panchakarma has been proved very effective in preventing the condition going worse as well as repairing the damaged joints. Ayurveda has a lot of time-proven external procedures like Snehana/Abhyanga, Swedana, Kativasti, Januvasti, Lepa, podikkizhi( powder pouch massage), Elakkizhi( leaf pouch massage) and dhara( pouring of oil) etc. . Apart from these treatments, the five major purificatory measures ( Panchakarma) must be done in every patient to eliminate the toxins for a long time so that the condition would not get worse.
Ahara and Vihara (Dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes)
It plays a major role in an effective treatment regime. Talk to your Ayurveda consultant to get more insight into the condition and an effective prevention routine.