Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bones. It is most likely to occur in the weight bearing joints of the hips, knees and spine. The disease is commonly known as wear and tear arthritis, as wear and tear in joints is considered as the main cause for the disease.
According to Ayurvedic science, Osteoarthritis is understood as sandhigata vata, a vata disorder affecting the sandhi (joints). Imbalanced vata in the joints leads to the breakdown of protective joint cartilage, thus roughening the smooth surface of bones and there by increasing the friction in joints and causing the disease.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
- Pain Affected joints might hurt during or after movements
- Stiffness Joint stiffness after a period of inactivity, noticeably more during morning hours.
- Tenderness Your joints might feel tender when you apply light pressure to it.
- Swelling Caused due to soft tissue inflammation around the joints
- Loss of flexibility Restricted movements, not able to move joints through its full range of movements.
- Grating sensation Hearing popping or crackling sound from your joints during movements.
- Bone spur Bony lumps might form around the your affected joints.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the chronic condition of joints when cartilage cushioning the end of bones gradually deteriorates, losses its elasticity and wears away. Cartilage is a firm protective layer that helps in friction less movement of joints. Over time, when cartilage wears off completely and bone begins to rub against each other, causing the above symptoms.
Causes of Osteoarthritis- Sandhigata vata in Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda, the disease is caused by vitiated vata. Factors responsible for vitiation of vata are:
- Excessive exercise
- Fasting in excess
- Fall or injury
- Excessive night vigil
- Suppression of natural urges
- Excessive consumption of cold food, dry food
- Excessive exposure to cold
- Cloudy and rainy season
- Old age (vata dosa increases as age progresses)
Risk factors of Osteoarthritis
- Genetic susceptibility - some people inherit a tendency to develop osteoarthritis.
- Age - risk of osteoarthritis increases with age.
- Sex - women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
- Obesity - Increased weight, the greater your risk.
- Joint injuries - Injuries such as sports injuries or accidental injuries can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Certain jobs - Physically demanding jobs or jobs that require repetitive stress on joint can increase your chance of developing osteoarthritis.
- Other metabolic diseases such as Diabetes, Haemochromatosis.
Complications of Osteoarthritis
- Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time, resulting in chronic pain and decreased ability to perform normal every day activities.
- Sleep disruption and depression can result from the pain and disability of osteoarthritis.
- Bone death
- Stress fractures
- Infection or bleeding in joints
- Pinched nerves in OA of spine
Importance for timely treatment in Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, but can be managed. If left untreated it will worsen with time. Timely diagnosis and treatment can reduce pain, improve joint function, flexibility, strength and thus help you move better.
Modern perspective- management of Osteoarthritis
- Medications (topical pain medicines and oral analgesics including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, NSAIDs)
- Exercise (land- and water-based)
- Intermittent hot and cold packs (local modalities)
- Physical, occupational, and exercise therapy
- Weight loss (if overweight)
- Supportive devices such as braces, orthotics, shoe inserts, cane, or walker
- Intra-articular injection therapies (steroid, hyaluronic acid “gel”)
- Complementary and alternative medicine strategies, including vitamins and supplements
- Surgery may be helpful if other conservative ways of treatments are ineffective.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Ayurvedic approach towards Osteoarthritis is totally different from modern perspective. In ayurveda the treatments are individualized. Osteoarthritis- Sandhigata vata occurs due to aggravation of vata dosa. As vata is dry in nature, in joints it dries up the lubricating synovial fluid, degenerate the joint and causes destruction of the cartilage. In Sandhigata vata, the treatment aims at pacifying this vitiated vata dosa through both internal medication and external applications. External procedures includes Ayurvedic panchakarma therapies for detoxification and rejuvenation. Early diagnosis and treatment is the only key to control sandhigata vata.
At Amala, we provide effective treatment for sandhighata vata. Our aim is to prevent the progression of disease, relieve pain, rejuvenate damaged cartilage, improve range of movement, strengthen and stabilize the affected joints. Healthy life style and dietary changes are also suggested to avoid further vitiation of dosas.
Diet in Osteoarthritis
- Increase the intake of green leafy vegetables and salads
- Eat freshly cooked food, hot soups of lentils, pulses.
- Intake of moderate quantity of ghee and oils
- Avoid oily/deep fried and processed food
- Eat a wholesome diet, include brown rice, whole wheat products in your food.
Lifestyle in Osteoarthritis
- Make exercise a routine in your life. Avoid strenuous activities as excessive use and reduced use has bad effect on your joints.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Have a regular oil massage and hot water bath.
- Avoid suppression of natural urges.
Best Yoga poses for Osteoarthritis
Yoga improves your strength, keeps your joints more flexible, reduce your pain, helps in stress management and balance. Movements in yoga help to keep the muscles around the joints strong and flexible. Yoga never causes pain; all the movements are modifiable to minimize pressure over the painful areas. Breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation can keep your mind relaxed and healthy. A healthy mind breeds a healthy body. Some effective Yoga postures in Osteoarthritis are below:
- Warrior pose (Virabhadrasana)
- Butterfly pose (Baddha konasana)
- Staff pose (Dandasana)
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandhasana)