Treating Osteo-Arthritis with Ayurveda
Arthritis as we know is a painful inflammation of the joints .Generally people suffer from two types of arthritis one is called Osteoarthritis and the other is called Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common condition, affecting the weight bearing joints (e.g. knees, lower back, hips, etc.), often described as “wear and tear” arthritis. In human body the ends of the bones in normal joints are covered with a smooth, slippery tissue called cartilage, which provides protection to our bones. Joints also contain a fluid called synovial fluid, which acts as a cushion or “shock absorber” and lubricates the joint. In people with osteoarthritis, the synovial fluid becomes thinner and loses its elasticity. The thinner synovial fluid does not provide a good cushion. For this reason, the cartilage covering the ends of the bones begins to break, which leads to pain and stiffness in the joint. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disorder, because of degeneration of cartilage covering the ends of the bones.
In Ayurveda this condition is called as Sandhigat Vata. This condition can be a very mild disease or a severe disease that greatly limits everyday activity. For example, if patient has Osteoarthritis of the knee, patient may feel pain and swelling in the knee area and pain gets worse during movement of the knee. Patient may feel or hear crunching or cracking sounds on movement of joints. Ayurvedic Science is based on the principles of Bio-energy. There are three types of Bio-energies or Doshas called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which control metabolism and all other functions of human body. The equilibrium of the Doshas provides complete health and imbalance of these Doshas lead to various disorders. Osteoarthritis (Sandhighat Vata) is a Vata disorder in which excessive Vata energy causes dryness in the joints followed by pain, swelling and stiffness of affected joints.
Ayurvedic therapy in Osteoarthritis not only prevents further deterioration in the joints but also rejuvenates the damaged cartilages. Ashwagandha, Guggul and Shilajit have excellent results in Osteoarthritis. These herbs have hardly any side effect even for long-term use. As acute pain may not be felt in every case of degeneration, one must think of starting treatment at the very initial stage.
Ayurveda Panchakarma increases mobility and decreases disability in Osteo arthritis. Abhyanga, Body massage with ayurvedic herbal oils helps to reduce the vata and thus reduce the pain. The joints affected by arthritis pain can be massaged for longer time till the pain reduces. The therapies include: Swedam, Elakizhi, Pizhichil, Navarakizhi, Janu vasthi, Virecanam, Matra vasthi etc. These differ from person to person and are decided by a Specialist Ayurvedic Physician according to the age, severity, intensity, and disability of the patient.
Ayurvedic Diets and life styles are selected as per constitution of the individual.
Yoga and light exercise are useful but people must know their limits. Exercises without giving weight are better. For example bending the knees in lying position or at a height is a good process for Osteoarthritis of Knee. As a general rule if any exercise, including walking, causes pain after one hour, people should know they have crossed their limit.
One should avoid being overweight, because excess weight increases the load on the joints. Regular exercises of knee joints help the patient to remain fit.