Osteoarthritis is marked by symptoms like joint pain, joint stiffness, swelling of joints, restricted joint movements etc. It usually manifests in the site of the hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips. Ayurveda has two perspectives of Osteoarthritis. The first one is ‘degeneration oriented’ Osteoarthritis is known as Dhatukshayajanya and the second is due to ‘accumulation of toxins in joints’. Both these types of Osteoarthritis have separate aetiologies and requires a different line of treatment altogether. A Vaidya needs to make a proper diagnosis for the successful treatment of Osteoarthritis. In rare cases, both the reasons are present which may take a longer time to heal and the patient may have to take rigorous therapies.

State of mind

Patients are known to lose their confidence when they are suffering from Osteoarthritis because they are fatigued both mentally and physically as they have to constantly fight the pain. This makes them very irritable and restless.

Main Cause

The main causes of manifestation of this disease are Malnutrition, excess physical and mental stress, obsession with sports, over gymming and other causes too can be responsible for the degenerative type of Osteoarthritis.
Lack of physical activity, obesity, heavy foods, and a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for the accumulation of toxins which causes the second type of Osteoarthritis.

What will add to Osteoarthritis?

Lack of awareness, ignorance or carelessly disregarding the pain or the signs of joint pain can further deteriorate the condition. It is the intermittent nature of the pain that makes one ignore the pain. This aggravates the ailment.
Low physical activity, sleeping in the day time, consuming curds and cold foods can aggravate the condition too.

Health Dangers

If untreated, Osteoarthritis can lead to anatomical deformity. Other structures within the joint can also be affected like ligaments. Outgrowth called osteophytes or spur can develop which can further make it painful. These developments cause disfigurement too. Depression can set in due to the feeling of helplessness and also causes low self-esteem.

Ayurvedic Treatment and Therapies for Osteoarthritis

Ayurveda can help to treat Osteoarthritis very successfully. With the professional guidance of diet, herbal supplements and Panchkarma (Ayurvedic detoxification), one can achieve the desired results.
Guggulu formulations have shown proven clinical results in the treatment of Osteoarthritis. Also, joint strengthening programs on regular basis, under the supervision and guidance of a qualified Ayurvedic physician will immensely help.

1. Panchakarma Therapies for Osteoarthritis

There are specific therapies mentioned in the classical textbook of Ayurveda for arthritis. As we have mentioned before, Osteoarthritis can be either degenerative or due to the accumulation of toxins. Depending upon the signs, symptoms and readings in Nadi Pariksha, the line of Panchakarma Therapies is decided.

A. Snehan :-

This means the oleation. This procedure is done by two different methods – Abhyantar Snehan ( oral intake of medicated oil/ghee) and Bahya Snehan (therapeutic massage with medicated oil/ghee). The benefits and indications of these therapies are different from each other.

Abhyantar Snehan or Snehapana :-

This is done as a therapeutic treatment as well as a preparatory procedure for some Panchakarma therapies. The dose and the type of medicated oil/ghee are strictly decided by a vaidya trained specifically to handle Panchakarma procedures and needs close medical observation.

As this is internal consumption, on a case basis, the dose is increased slowly and gradually in the span of 8 to 14 days. Whereas in some cases, it requires only the same dose to be consumed for a certain number of days as required to influence healing.

  1. Regeneration of body tissues
  2. Moistens the entire body’s deeper tissues
  3. Improves the efficiency of all sense organs
  4. Lubricates the joints, increases the mobility of the body.
Indicated signs of Snehapana :-
  1. Degenerative disorders
  2. Chronic arthritis
  3. Skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema etc
  4. Neuro-muscular disorders
  5. Hair fall
  6. Constipation
  7. Chronic fatigue syndrome
Bahya Snehan or Therapeutic massage :-

This is the most popular treatment of Āyurveda and also becomes the base for many Panchkarma therapies. This therapy has no age limits and can be done for a newborn baby to a ninety-year-old person.

Duration – 45 minutes

  1. Rejuvenate body and mind
  2. Improves immunity
  3. Calms and freshen the mind
  4. Reduces aches and pains
  5. Gives shape to the body
  6. Induces sound sleep
Indication in which Snehan therapy is not advised:-
  1. Hypertension
  2. Obesity
  3. In case of bruise and wound, swollen and injured muscles
  4. Too much fatigue
  5. Peripheral vascular disease
B. Swedan:- (obesity, stiffness)

This is the process by which the body, below the neck, is made to perspire in a herbal steam bath. This therapy is also done for specific body parts (local Snehan) and various means are used like medicated oil/ ghee/decoction/medicated milk etc. It is done either as individual therapy or complementary therapy.

Duration:- 45 minutes or as per the tolerance of the client.

Benefits :-
  1. Removes pain, stiffness and swelling of the body
  2. Improves stability and stamina
  3. Improves and tones gastric fire
  4. Helps to eliminate excess subcutaneous fats
  5. Makes the skin lustrous
Indicated signs of Swedan therapy :-
  1. Slow metabolism, loss of appetite
  2. Slow lymphatic circulation and poor blood circulation
  3. Oedema, aches and pain
  4. Neuro-muscular disorders
  5. Joint pain
C. Matra Basti:-

This procedure is a medicated oil enema that is administered through the anal route to rejuvenate and strengthen this channel.

Duration:- 20 to 30 minutes

  1. It helps to maintain the health and longevity of the deeper tissues by effectively eliminating the excess toxins from the body.
  2. It helps improve the digestive fire or Agni and helps in the digestion of toxins that form as a result of an ineffective digestion process.
  3. It rejuvenates the skin which is the direct result of rasa and rakta dhatu. Rasa dhatu is the outcome of consuming food where acids, alkali and food are mixed in harmony where food is consumed in a pleasant state of mind. Rasa is useful to nourish every tissue of the body.
  4. It helps in maintaining the water metabolism by nourishing the walls of the large intestine.
D. Niruham or Kashaya Basti:-

It is a process where medicated decoction enema is administered into the large intestine.

Duration:- 20 to 30 minutes

Benefits :-
  1. The medicated decoction balances the Vaayu, thereby improving the life of tissues in the body. It activates the life force which originates at the pelvic diaphragm and enhances the overall energy in the body.
  2. When Vaayu is toned, it also helps in toning the nerve impulses thereby relaxing the nerves and muscles
  3. It induces a deep state of relaxation.
  4. It eliminates constipation.
E. Janu Basti:-

It is a specialised treatment for ailments related to the Knee joint. Various medicated oils are used as per the condition of the joints. This therapy is done for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the severity of the disease.

Duration:- 30 to 40 minutes

Benefits :-
  1. Reduces pain and swelling in the knee joint.
  2. Improves the weight-bearing capacity of the joint.
  3. Restores the damage of the joints by strengthening the muscles and ligaments supporting the joint.
  4. Improves the movement of the knee joint.
Indicated signs for Janu Basti :-
  1. Pain in the knee joint and calf muscles.
  2. Osteoarthritis of the knee joint
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis
  4. Ligament tear, Meniscus’s tear
  5. Effusion in the knee joint
  6. Subluxation of knee ligaments
F. Kati Basti:-

It is an Ayurvedic lumbo-sacral rejuvenation therapy using medicated oil or herbal decoctions. One can achieve both local oleation and sudation by this procedure. The word Kati stands for Lower back or waist and Basti for containing or retaining something inside.

Duration:- 30 to 40 minutes

Benefits :-
  1. Pacifies Vata Dosha.
  2. Reduces pain and inflammation in the lower back area.
  3. Removes rigidification and spasm of muscles around the lumbosacral region.
  4. Nourishes and strengthens the bones, connective tissues, ligaments, nerves, muscles of the lumbosacral region.
  5. Lubricates the joint.
  6. Subluxation of knee ligaments
Indicated signs for Kati Basti :-
  1. Chronic backache.
  2. Degenerative changes in the spine.
  3. The compressed intervertebral disc.
  4. Disc prolapse
  5. Osteoporosis
  6. Sciatica
  7. Rheumatic arthritis.

2. Ayurvedic diet & nutrition with lifestyle modifications for Osteoarthritis patients:

Adopting a favorable diet and lifestyle is extremely beneficial for not only healing Osteoarthritis but also avoid the trigger of the disorder. It may be a bit challenging for a person to adopt these changes at the initial stage and may take a fewer week to completely comprehend the whole concept of the modification. But the outcome is rewarding and long-lasting.

It is important to understand certain wrong food combination which can aggregate the condition of the disorder. Here are a few specific wrong combinations of food which can trigger the attack of the disorder.

  • Avoid combining milk and fish.
  • Avoid drinking water, juices, cold drink etc with food or immediately after food.
  • Avoid consuming fruits with any food.
  • Avoid having milk with fruits, bread, khichdi.
  • Avoid yoghurt completely.
  • Avoid chana/besan foods
  • Avoid all kind of sour and cold foods.

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