TREATING OSTEOARTHRITIS – THE AYURVEDA WAY !!!!

By: Dr. Anagha Bhat

DEGENERATION – DERAILING GENERATIONS??!!

is something that I have been pondering over in my clinical practise. With the dawn of 21st Century has come the realisation that bone and joint diseases are the major causes of pain and physical disability worldwide, such that WHO has declared the first 10 years of new century as the bone and joint decade- 2000-2010.

One of the painful joint disorders; OA is the failure of diarthrodial joint which is associated with defective integrity of articular cartilage in addition to related changes in the underlying bone at the joint margins. It hampers the quality of life thus robbing one of life’s happiness.

Osteoarthritis clinically presents with symptoms of pain, stiffness( To understand OA in Ayurvedic perspective, it is good to give a glance on structure of Sandhi/ Joint. Sandhi is considered as a marma sthana or a vital point in Ayurveda. It is a complex structure made up of bones which has close contact with peshis/ muscles, Shleshmadhara kala/ Synovial membrane, shleshaka kapha/ synovial fluid, vyana vata, snayu and kandara/ ligaments and tendons, siras/ blood vessels. Sandhigatavata as OA is described in Ayurveda is the pain felt in joint movements associated with swelling and crepitus. This condition is due to Ruksha guna vridhi of vata and shleshaka kapha kshaya in sandhi.

As such blood tests are not diagnostic of OA and radiographic evidence of joints are beneficial for diagnosis.
Management of OA comes with the main goal of-

Timely provision of therapy- Reducing the pain, maintaining mobility and minimising disability, which includes:

1. Non – Pharmacological Therapy

  • Education
  • Physiotherapy
  • Thermotherapy
  • Exercise therapy and weight reduction

2. Pharmacological Therapy

  • Anti inflammatory drugs, Analgesics, Neutracueticals

3. Surgery

Ayurveda has a wholistic way of approaching sandhigatavata incorporating both internal and external therapies.

  • External Therapies
  1. Snehana/ Oleation- where localised therapies like basti, pichu, Abhyanga helps the joints to remain lubricated and flexible.
  2. Swedana/ Fomentation- therapies like Patra panda sweda, Shashtika shali pinda sweda, kukkutanda sweda reduce the pain and swelling of joints affected.
  3. Basti/ medicated Enema- is the best vatahara and achieves the goal of balancing deranged vata and nourishing asthi dhatu.
  4. Agnikarma- A specialised therapy to reduce pain.
    Jalouka- Leech therapy is beneficial in swelling and redness of joints as leech saliva has anti inflammatory and analgesic properties.
  • Internal Therapies
  1. Intake of medicated ghee is beneficial.
  2. Useful herbs like shallaki, ashwagandha, shunti, guggulu, dashamula, guduchi having anti inflammatory, analgesic and rejuvenative properties are used as per stage of disease.

Put in a nutshell, Sandhigatavata is such a disease which requires stage wise continuous treatment with a tailor made prescription for individual patient. Ayurveda not only helps in treating specific Dhatu but helps in limiting the progression of disease and further regeneration of tissue.

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