Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that causes severe pain in the joints. It is best described as an inflammatory disorder that affects one or more joints, causing swelling, pain, tenderness, and stiffness, particularly in the mornings. It usually affects the joints in the hands, hips, and knee, but can also affect the shoulders. It is a debilitating condition that worsens with age, making it difficult to carry out everyday chores.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Ayurveda describes osteoarthritis as a condition of the Vatha dosha. Vatha has a predominantly dry and light disposition, and its vitiation creates an imbalance of the Kapha dosha, leading to the deterioration of cartilages in the joints. This degradation creates friction in the joints, which causes pain. The condition only worsens with time, but early intervention with the proper treatment can be helpful.
Ayurveda offers a holistic treatment for the cure of the condition. Osteoarthritis treatment in Ayurveda is safe and effective and shows positive results.
Causes of Osteoarthritis:
As mentioned, osteoarthritis caused by the vitiation of Vatha dosha. Several contributory factors cause the vitiation of Vata, such as:
- Regular intake of foods which describe in Ayurveda as having drying properties.
- Consuming fewer calories as a practice—means eating less food that is unable to sustain the body for long periods.
- Having an inadequate diet lacking in proper nourishment.
- Suffering from continuous bouts of indigestion.
- Having to travel too often.
- Not going to bed on time, thereby preventing the body from getting adequate sleep.
- Being overactive through the day and not allowing time for rest.
Other factors that can sometimes disturb vatha are:
- High-stress levels—mental, physical, and emotional.
- Trauma—physical, mental, and emotional.
- Excessive bleeding.
- Withholding natural urges.
- Living in dry weather conditions.
- Living in frigid climatic conditions.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
The symptoms of osteoarthritis do not show up altogether. They often develop slowly and become worse as time progresses. Symptoms of Osteoarthritis include:
Pain: The pain can be mild to severe and is generally experienced in the affected joints during or after movement.
Tenderness: Affected joints and the adjoining areas feel tender to the touch.
Stiffness: Joint stiffness is most severe in the morning and after being idle for a long time.
Loss of flexibility: The joints become rigid as the condition worsens, making it impossible to flex them completely.
Crepitus: It is common to hear the joints cracking or popping upon movement or experience a grating sensation.
Swelling: The soft tissue around the joints becomes inflamed and causes soreness.
Bone Spurs: Small hard masses of bone form on the affected joint’s bones, causing severe discomfort.
Effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatment for Osteoarthritis:
Ayurveda follows a holistic approach in the treatment of diseases. It is a form of medicine that focuses on treating the cause rather than the symptom. So, even though the treatment’s basic principle remains the same, the therapies are always individualized and based on several factors.
Ayurveda practitioners follow three basic steps to reach an individualized diagnosis of patients. These are:
Darshanam, which translates to inspection.
Sparshanam, which means palpitation.
Prashna, a clinical interview.
The recommended treatment base on the results of the three findings. The treatment involves identifying the cause of the disease and treating it. Ayurveda works to drop the cause of the disease and is, thus, an effective treatment for osteoarthritis. Ayurveda uses herbal concoctions to correct the faults and balance the dosha. It has a healing effect on the body, which gradually reduces the symptoms.
Ayurvedic treatment for osteoarthritis involves therapies that remove toxins and impurities from the body, cleansing it, and making it well. Panchakarma is the most common ayurvedic therapy. Panchakarma therapy involves several procedures that collectively purge the toxins from the body through induced vomiting, excretion, and perspiration.
Panchakarma uses herbs and traditional methods mentioned in Ayurveda to heal the body and lessen the disease’s symptoms.
The therapy includes the following treatments:
Application of medicated paste: The external application of herbal pastes helps reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Pouring of herbal fluids: The pouring of warm herbal concoctions, known as Dhara, over the affected joints relieves pain and swelling. The concoction called Ksheera Kashaya; consists of cow milk infused with special potent herbs.
Internal administration of herbal oils/ghee: The procedure involves ingesting oils or ghee in which herbs have steep. These concoctions are not very pleasant tasting; they have a rather peculiar taste that is a mix of bitter and astringent. The procedure is crucial to panchakarma. The herbs that go into the mixed base on the severity of the patient’s condition and other aspects.
Heat application: Heated herbal pouches place on the affected joints to ease the stiffness and improve flexibility.
Medicated purgation: Medicated purgation or Virechana is a procedure that removes toxins from the gut and strengthens the Agni (fire) in the body.
Herbal enema: Vasthi is a herbal enema that clears the lower alimentary canal. Special herbs use in the preparation of the enema liquid. It balances the Vatha and, in turn, restores the affected joints to their former healthy state.
Ayurveda also recommends a special diet plan to fight osteoarthritis. It comprises:
Freshly cooked plant-based meals.
Cutting out deep-fried foods from the diet.
Eating well-planned, nutritious meals, rich in micro and macro minerals and vitamins, and fiber.
Avoiding foods that have drying properties.
Avoiding foods with cooling properties.
Using Sendha namak, also called saindhava lavana or rock salt
Eating specific spices to balance the doshas.
The removal of impurities from the body balances the doshas. When complemented with a proper meal plan and lifestyle modification, the treatment begins to show effects. The body starts repairing itself, and the symptoms of osteoarthritis begin to diminish.