Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is one of the oldest and most common types of arthritis. It is characterized by a breakdown of the joint's cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of bones. Cartilage breakdown causes bones to rub against each other, causing pain and loss of movement. Osteoarthritis can range from very mild to very severe, and most commonly affects middle-aged and older people. It affects hands and weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, feet and the back.
Excessive consumption of dry, cold or stale food, exposure to severe cold and dry weather, excessive use of joint, obesity, joint injury, heredity and old age are the main causative factors.
According to Ayurveda, Osteoarthritis occurs due to aggravation of Vata Dosha and is known as Sandhivata (Sandhi means the joint and Vata stands for Vata Dosha). Vata is an Ayurvedic humor that symbolizes air or wind and governs all movements in the body as well as mind. The condition of Sandhivata is caused when the activities of Vata increase inside the Sandhis or joints. Because Vata is dry in nature, it absorbs the fluidity from any part of the body. It is also destructive or catabolic in nature, which is why it causes destruction of the cartilages and reduction in the Synovial Fluid inside the joint capsule.
Ayurvedic treatment of Osteoarthritis not only prevents further deterioration in the joints but also rejuvenates damaged cartilages. Vata-alleviating treatments through specific herbs are also suggested for lubrication and strengthening of joints.