Osteoarthritis or simply OA is a condition where the wear and tear of joints happens and is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative disorder that is associated with cartilage breakdown in joints. The OA can occur in any joint/s in the body though mostly occurs in the weight-bearing joints of the body like hips, knees, and spine. OA can also affect the neck, fingers, thumb, and large toe. OA can affect the other joints with a previous injury or underlying cartilage disorder.
In OA, cartilage (firm, rubbery material that reduces the friction in the joints) becomes stiff and loses its elasticity. It becomes more susceptible to damage and with time, further wear and tear decreases its ability to act as a shock absorber. This leads to the stretching of tendons and ligaments. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disorder, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disorder.
Ayurvedic Description Of Osteoarthritis
‘Sandhigata Vata’ is what Osteoarthritis has been referred to in Ayurvedic texts. In Sandhigata Vata, there is the invasion of Vata in the joints of the body. This aggravated and localized Vata in the joints produces pain, restricted movements and swelling. On getting lodged in the joints of the body, Vata in relation to affecting the joints (Sandhi) causes Sandhigata Vata. As the name suggests, the Sandhigata Vata is made up of two words- Sandhi and Vata, which tells that Vata affects the joints of the body. The degree and severity of the disease increases and decreases with the season, dietary habits that cause aggravation of Vata. In Sandhigata Vata, there is a depletion of Asthi and other dhatus.
Signs & Symptoms
- Joints pain
- Burning sensation in the nearby muscles and tendons
- Crepitus in affected joints
- Bony spurs and decreased joints movability.
Causes and Risk Factors
Obese people are more prone to getting OA, as the joints do not stay in a condition to support the body weight. The extra weight causes the cartilage to break down that cushions the joints.
Any injury like fractures, ligament tear, which injures the joints can lead to osteoarthritis. Repetitive movements, standing for too long, repetitive bending, lifting can do the wear and tear of the joints and hence lead to osteoarthritis.
3. Medical conditions
Diabetes, marfan’s syndrome, congenital disorders of joints, joints infection put an individual on a higher risk, bone and joints disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders like hemochromatosis causes the body to observe too much iron, acromegaly; a disorder of pituitary gland where the body produces too much growth hormone. These are some of the conditions that raise the risk of OA in patients.
Self Care Tips
- Avoid food items that are cold, dry in nature that aggravates Vata in the body.
- Massage the body and joints regularly to keep them in healthy shape.
- Don’t do excessive weight trainings unless you are a professional body builder or doing under the instruction of a professional trainer.
- Keep the body weight in healthy limits that doesn’t trouble the joints.
- Heat and cold application relieves from stiffness and muscular spasms.
- Light yogic exercises, slight movements of joints help in removing the stiffness and provide more movability in locked joints.
- Warm and light food should be a preferred choice of food in the condition.
- Keep the body parts and joints warm in winter, cold and rainy seasons.
Ayurveda has many modalities to treat Osteoarthritis that includes herbal medication, yogic exercises and Panchkarma techniques. In the severe cases of OA, only maintenance could be done where damage is more and cannot be cured.