• Dr A A Mundewadi

Osteoarthritis (OA) – Modern (Allopathic) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Osteoarthritis (OA) involves degeneration of the smooth cartilage which lines the long bones and forms joints. This can cause pain, swelling, stiffness and limitation of movement. The knee, hip, spine and hands are most commonly affected. OA is most commonly due to old age, obesity, trauma, occupational hazards, and genetic influences; it is more common in women.

Treatment is with pain killers, physical activity, weight loss measures, local injections, and surgery to correct bone deformity or joint replacement. Most affected people do well with conservative treatment. Regular physical activity is important to maintain stability of the joint, strengthen supporting muscles, and reduce pain.

Modern pain-killers and anti-inflammatory medicines are very effective in reducing severe pain; however, these medicines cannot prevent disease progression and have a whole range of serious side effects because of which they cannot be used for prolonged durations. Local injections of steroids directly into the affected joint can dramatically reduce pain; however, the effect is short-lived, and many patients end up with increased pain. Joint replacement surgery can also dramatically cure all disease symptoms; however, the cost of the procedure is prohibitive, and the range of post-operative joint movement may be limited. Though rare, surgery itself may have serious complications; mostly resulting from infection and reactions to anesthesia.

Ayurvedic herbal treatment is very effective in treating both moderate as well as advanced OA. Depending upon the severity of the condition, Ayurvedic medicines need to be given in high doses for about 3 to 6 months to get complete relief from pain, swelling and other symptoms related to OA. Ayurvedic medicines work by reducing and treating inflammation and swelling, and reversing cartilage damage. Immediate relief in pain can be induced by local fomentation of affected joints using medicated steam or modified acupuncture techniques.

Ayurvedic herbal treatment is also very effective in treating advanced OA, especially for those people who have been advised complete joint replacement. Aggressive treatment with herbal medicines, combined with local pain relief ointments or fomentation, graded exercises, and weight loss measures have resulted in stabilizing affected individuals to such an extent that joint replacement is no longer required. Treatment duration for such patients is usually about 6 to 12 months. Side effects or unwanted effects of Ayurvedic medicines used for such patients are virtually nonexistent, even though high doses are required to effectively treat advanced OA. A few patients who do not respond satisfactorily to these treatment protocols, may require supplementary treatment with medicated enemas.

Ayurvedic herbal treatment thus has a very important role to play in the treatment and management of OA.

Osteoarthritis, OA, Ayurvedic treatment, herbal medicines

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