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Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint diseaseand osteoarthrosis. It is characterized by the deterioration of cartilage inthe joints, resulting in pain and reduced or loss of function. This conditionprimarily affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet, andback, and the joints in the fingers and hands.

Osteoarthritis worst affects movable synovial joints.Here in these joints, the ends of the bones are covered with cartilage. Synovialfluid carries nourishes the cartilage, preventing it from becoming dry andbrittle and keeping its surface lubricated so the joints can work smoothly. Thejoint capsule encloses the joint, protects it, and keeps the synovialfluid within the joint.

With thedisease progress, crevices and bone spurs (osteophytes) may developwithin the affected joint, resulting in increasing pain and decreasing mobility.

Accordingto Ayurveda also Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease causeddue to aggravation of the dynamic factor – VATA and is therefore calledSandhigata vata. It is characterized by the deterioration ofcartilage in the joints, resulting in pain and reduced or loss of function.This condition primarily affects weight-bearing joints such as the reason forwhich has been attributed to the fact that these weight bearing joints are thesights in maximum motion. These weight bearing joints therefore slowly come toa state which has an aggravated VATA which reduces KAPHA the principle which isknown to have binding and lubricating properties. This leads to increasedfriction and damage to osteophytes as suggested in modern science and cause thepain and stiffness associated with the disease.

Osteoarthritisworst affects movable synovial joints. Here in these joints, the ends ofthe bones are covered with cartilage. Synovial fluid carries nourishesthe cartilage, preventing it from becoming dry and brittle and keeping itssurface lubricated so the joints can work smoothly. The joint capsuleencloses the joint, protects it, and keeps the synovial fluid within the joint.

Hereit is important to stress that – KAPHAand VATA the two principles we have talked abut are such that – KAPHA binds thestructures and VATA provides for movement and dynamics of anything in the body.This dynamics can be of physical character or also sensational. Any movement inthe body – most micro to the most macro element, all will move based on the prevalenceof VATA. Excess of it causes hyper activity.

Take a look at a simple lay man’sprinciple talked about above here –

Excess VATA – hyperactivity.

If there is hyperactivity of anything it will actively cause friction and friction will cause erosion of the surfaces.Now with respect to Osteoarthritis, the surfaces are the joints of the bonesand the erosion will be of the synovium as a structure when it comes to jointmovements. Since the movement of bigger or large joints is more common, theyare found to be more affected.

Decreased KAPHA – erosion.

This is how Ayurveda lays stress onthe fact that – osteoarthritis is a VATA based disorders. Even though the contributingfactors are supposed to be abstract; they have a scientific background based onprinciples of physics and chemistry and biochemistry which when correlated theystand out to explain the same mechanisms that we study in modern sciences inthe same way.

Incidence andPrevalence 

Thiscondition is more common in people middle-aged and older. After the age of 45,osteoarthritis affects more women than men.

Causes and Factors

Deteriorationof the cartilage in the joint is the main cause resulting in osteoarthritis.The major risk factor is aging. Approximately 70% of people over the ageof 65 show some signs of osteoarthritis upon x-ray examination. Other factorsare:

  • Congenital or developmental disorders

  • Female sex

  • Major trauma

  • Metabolic or endocrine disorders

  • Repetitive overuse

Signs and Symptoms

Insome cases osteoarthritis can be asymptomatic and may be diagnosed incidentallyupon x-ray. When symptoms occur, they can range from mild to severe Pain– which is described as a deep ache confined to the affected joint. Pain tendsto increase with use of the joint and subsides with rest; however, as thedisease progresses, pain may become persistent. Osteoarthritis may cause painat night that interferes with sleep.

Stiffness in the joint may occur due toinactivity


Osteoarthritisis diagnosed using x-rays.

Treatment options:

Accordingto ayurvedic principles the treatment is divided into 3 segments.

  1. Diet which seeks to reduce if not eliminate VATA aggravating dry, rough, cold food.

  2. Lifestyle which also seeks to reduce any similar aggravations of VATA which primarily seeks to develop a lifestyle where a balance of VATA and KAPHA can be maintained if not improved significantly.

  3. Medication is also of two types and both combined together are supposed to yield best results however, a person’s state of health determines if he is eligible for the combination or not. This is medicine + panchakarma.

Primarilythe medicines that may be prescribed should be standardized products and shouldbe backed by authentic research (kinds of which recommended at AyushyaVarsha. One’s quoted here are not necessarily the only medications butalways remember to choose brands which have standardized products backed bysome research) these could be – eg: RHUMALYA forte and RESOTO from HIMALAYA, and REUMAZALL from ShreeBAIDYANATH AYURVEDA BHAWAN.

Accordingto modern principles the treatment is -

Mostly the opted treatment option used is NSAID or lately wehave seen an increase in the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin combination.These do relieve pain yet they do not offer much reduction in discomfort.

Common features –

Both the treatments look topreserve the lubricating factors intact and their degradation as slow possible.The medication is basically supplemental and pain relieving and looks to slowdown the process. Since, this is a degenerative process and we cannot reverse anatural degradation, and is rather symbolic of ageing which is a universalphenomenon,

Thebasics of treatment followed are –

Analgesicsfor pain relief.

Dietmanagement to check obesity.

Followingprincipals of geriatrics to slow down the process.

Physiotherapyor Yoga to recondition the person’s life style.

** The next seriesof articles will feature on leucoderma**

articles will feature on leucoderma**