Osteoarthritis is known as degenerative joint disease or Osteoarthrosis is a type of a joint disease that manifests due to degenerative changes setting in the joints which is typically characterized by damage or destruction to the cartilages that are present within each joint. The most commonly affected joint is the knee joint. The other joints that are affected are the wrists, fingers, toes, back, neck and hips.

According to Ayurveda, Osteoarthritis occurs due to aggravation of Vata Dosha and is known as “Sandhivata (sandhi=joint).The vata (one of the three bio-regulating principles of the body) is aggravated by various reasons like improper diet, over exertion, injury, exposure to cold & intake of cold items, suppression of natural urges, staying awake at night, stress, depression etc. Apart from these, aging is a primary cause as vata predominance in body increases as age of the person advances towards old age. Individuals with the Vata Prakruti are also more prone for the Sandhivata.

Causes of Osteoarthritis:

 The main cause for osteoarthritis is the degeneration (wear and tear) that occurs naturally in the process of ageing.

Primary causes

  • Genetic factors – Genetic vulnerability to osteoarthritis is one of the important factors.
  • History of previous injury to the joint can accelerate the process of degenerative changes.
  • Overweight – This can usually affect in manifestation of degenerative changes in the weight bearing joints typically the knee joint.
  • Difference in length of the two legs – which leads to unequal distribution of weight and hence resulting in excessive weight bearing in one of the limbs which accelerates the process of degeneration.
  • Metabolic changes and sex hormones – female hormones have a protective effect and so women are protected till menopause but the risk increases thereafter.

Secondary causes

Osteoarthritis may be caused as a result of other diseases. Some of them are as below

  • Heamo-chromatosis
  • Congenital anomalies
  • Parthe’s disease
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Inflammatory diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis and Gout

Signs and symptoms:

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Grating sensation.
  • Bone spurs

Ayurveda management:

 Sandhivata gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But Sandhivata treatments can prevent the progression of the disease, relieve pain, rejuvenates damaged cartilages, and improves the joint lubrication, function & strength.

Sandhivata treatment includes both Samana chikitsa and shodhan chikitsa. Shamana chikitsa includes Ayurveda oral medicines and external applications. Shodana chikitsa includes Ayurveda Panchakarma and Kayakalpa therapies for detoxification and rejuvenation. Healthy diet habits & life style are equally important in maintaining the joint health.

Ayurvedic therapies like Abhyanga (medicated oil massage), Local vasthi (Pooling of oil), sashtikashali pinda sweda (Medicated rice massage) and Ksheeravasthi (Medicated milk enema) to strengthen the cartilages and joints. Procedures like churna pinda sweda (Herbal powder massage), patra pinda sweda (Herbal leaves massage), Dhanyamladhara (Pouring of a fermented liquid) and Kashaya vasthi (Enema With herbal decoctions) are used to reduce inflammation. By these procedures Ayurveda is able to provide tangible relief from symptoms and improvement in functional capabilities in Patients with Osteoarthritis.