OSTEOARTHRITIS AND AYURVEDA
The ends of two or more bones come together to form joints of our body enabling free movements. All our day to day activities depends upon the integrity and healthy conditions of our joints. There are many diseases and disorders which afflict our joints at some part of life. Many give pain and distress, others disturb our living. Osteoarthritis is one such disease afflicting our joints which makes us feel that life is definitely a curse.
WHAT IS AN OSTEOARTHRITIS
OSTEO means bone; ARTH refers to ARTHRON which means joint, and ITIS means inflammation. So osteoarthritis is the inflammation of the bone and joint cartilage. Although it also have an inflammatory cause ,it is mostly a degenerative disease resulting from simple wear and tear.
A healthy joint consists of two bones, each with its own layer of articular cartilage , which is a type of connective tissue that allows the two bones to glide against each other without friction. The synovium forms the inner lining of the joint space(synovial joint) which lubricates the two articular surfaces. In osteoarthritis there is progressive loss of this articular cartilage and there is not much separation between the bones in the joint thereby creating significant amount of friction between them leading to pain and stiffness. Overtime ,the joint may lose its normal shape. Also ,small deposits of bone called osteophytes or bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint .Bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space causing more pain and damage.
OA can affect and damage any joint in the body. Joints of hands, spine,hips,or knees are the main sites. Unlike other arthritis it does not affect skin tissue ,the lungs .the eyes or the blood vessels.
The common symptoms are
Stiffness in morning which usually lasts for less than one hour and comes back at the end of the day.
Pain which is a sharp ache or a burning sensation which gets worse with prolonged activity
Age-The risk of OA increases with age
Sex-women are more likely to develop OA
Joint injury-May increase risk of secondary OA.
Mechanical stress and obesity- especially on weight bearing joints.
Sedentary lifestyle-cartilage depends upon joint use for its nutrition.
Others including neurological factors, genetical factors and even certain medications.
LIFE STYLE TIPS FOR MANAGING OA
To reduce the risk of OA or to slow down the progression of OA if already developed the following tips can be implemented
Maintain a healthy weight-helps in reducing stress on your joints especially in weight bearing joints like knee , hips .
Excersises-Inorder to maintain the joint health ,strengthening muscles around the joint ,to ease stiffness and pain certain exercises are advised.
Rest-Eventhough exercises can develop a healthy joint ,overusing can also develop OA. So a balance between two are essential. If the joint is more painful or swollen give them a break.
Aviod repetitve movements- Doing the same movements or motions again and again during work or sports put you at increased risk of OA. So avoid this as far as possible.
Maintain a good posture for good spine health.Maintain the two natural curves of your spine when both sitting and standing.
Avoid injuries or get them treated properly at the right time.
Dietary nutritions like omega 3 fatty acids, vit c and D, reduces OA progression.
Avoid too much cold exposure.
OA MANAGEMENT IN AYURVEDA
OA is gradually progressive and it worsens with time, and no cure exist.But Osteoarthritis can be well managed under Ayurveda.After having consultation and undergoing physical examination by the physician and with the help of certain investigations ,the treatments are decided and the treatments vary from patient to patient depending upon the presenting complaints and the joint involved.
Ayurvedic treatments aim up on
1. Relieving symptoms: Initially treatments are given to relieve the presenting complaints of the patients like pain, stiffness or swelling. Along with internal medicines external applications like Lepana, Bandaging, Dasamoola ksheera dhara,Choorna pinda sweda , Dhanyamladhara etc are done to reduce inflammation and pain.
2. Preventing further progression OA
3. Finally rejuvenating damaged cartilages and improves the joint lubrication ,function and strength.
For preventing further progression and maintaining the join health panchakarma therapies are adopted .Abyanga,Local vasthis,Njavarakizhi etc are also adviced to strengthen bone and cartilages.
Healthy diet habits and life style are equally important in maintaining the joint health.
Early undergoing and conservative therapies helps in relieving pain, maintaining and improving range of movement and stability of affected joints and limiting functional impairment.