Modern and Ayurvedic views on Osteoarthritis- a comparative study.

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By Dr. Sandeep Benkal

Dr. Sandeep Benkal boasts a comprehensive fifteen-year background as an Ayurvedic doctor, with a particular specialization in skin conditions, arthritis, PCOS, and diabetes management.

BAMS, DND| 15+ Years of Experience

Modern and Ayurvedic views on Osteoarthritis- a comparative study.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone, typically due to wear and tear over time. It is the most common type of arthritis and is more common in older people. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and stiffness for a short period of time especially after a period of rest or inactivity. 

Modern medicine and Ayurveda offer different perspectives and treatment approaches to OA. Here's a comparison of both views: 

Ayurveda encourages certain lifestyle interventions and natural therapies to regain a balance between the body, mind, spirit, and the environment. Modern medicine focuses on diagnosing and treating illness, symptomatically. 

Here's a comparison of both views on the diagnosis and treatment of OA. 

Modern Medicine Perspective

Causes:  Modern medicine identifies various risk factors for OA, including aging, genetic predisposition, joint injury, obesity, and repetitive stress on the joints.

Clinical Significance: OA is characterized by the degradation of cartilage, changes in the subchondral bone, formation of osteophytes, and inflammation of the synovial membrane.

Diagnosis: Physical examination to check for tenderness, swelling, and range of motion. X-Rays, MRIs and Blood Tests are done to ascertain significant information. 

Treatment: Analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and hyaluronic acid injections are given to patients to treat OA.

Physical Therapy: Exercises to strengthen muscles around the joint, improve range of motion, and reduce pain.

Lifestyle Modifications: Weight loss, low-impact exercises, and ergonomics.

Surgery: Joint replacement in severe cases.

Ayurvedic Perspective 

Causes: Ayurveda attributes OA to an imbalance in the body's doshas, primarily vata dosha, which is associated with dryness and degeneration. Poor digestion and accumulation of ama (toxins) are also considered as contributing factors for OA.

Clinical Significance: OA is seen as a result of vitiated vata dosha leading to the deterioration of the joints and the accumulation of ama causing inflammation and stiffness. 

Diagnosis: Detailed patient history and physical examination to assess dosha imbalance and symptoms. Nadi Pariksha (pulse diagnosis) to determine the state of doshas. Observation of physical symptoms, examination of the tongue, and analysis of urine and stool.

Treatment: Use of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving herbs like Ashwagandha, Shallaki (Boswellia serrata), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), and Turmeric.

Panchakarma: Detoxification procedures such as Virechana (purgation), Basti (medicated enema), and Abhyanga (therapeutic oil massage) to balance doshas and remove toxins.

Diet and Lifestyle: Dietary modifications to pacify vata dosha, including warm, moist, and nourishing foods. Regular exercise, yoga, and stress management techniques are highly recommended.

External Therapies: Use of therapeutic oils (e.g., Mahanarayan oil) for massage, fomentation, and application of herbal pastes.

Integrative Approaches: 

Combining Ayurvedic treatments with modern medicine for a holistic approach to OA management is imperative. Increasing interest in scientifically validating Ayurvedic treatments through clinical trials and research studies have been gaining momentum. 

Both systems aim to alleviate the symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with osteoarthritis but approach the condition from fundamentally different frameworks. Integrative approaches that combine the strengths of both modern and Ayurvedic medicine are gaining popularity for comprehensive OA management to treat OA effectively.