Osteoarthritis Ayurveda

Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease that millions of patients suffer across the world. Osteoarthritis joint pain affects nearly 20% of the population. 

The condition affects your joints, especially in the knees, hands, and hips. In some cases, the shoulders are affected. The large weight-bearing joints face depleted cartilage and affect mobility.

The condition is incurable; but Ayurveda can help manage the symptoms. Ayurvedic treatment for osteoarthritis includes Panchakarma therapy, Abhyanaga, dietary and routine correction and more.

In this blog, let us learn more about managing osteoarthritis with Ayurveda.


Understanding Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis occurs due to wear and tear of joints resulting in cartilage deterioration. This is most often due to ageing. But obesity, heredity and joint trauma can also be the reasons. 

The symptoms and their severity can differ for each individual. People often feel their joints being tender and painful. There is a limited range of motion thereby hampering free movement. The muscles surrounding the affected joint might be painful and might swell.

The symptoms are usually prevelant in the morning on waking up. They tend to be more severe in winter or after strenuous physical activity. Patients suffering from osteoarthritis feel tenderness when any pressure is applied. 

The ageing process reduces the cartilage and causes it to degenerate. Additional weight lays extra pressure on the joints, resulting in degeneration of the cartilage. Repetitive jobs and joint injuries are other possible causes for symptoms of osteoarthritis. Joint discomfort and cracking are the early symptoms of arthritis. 

If left unattended, there is progressive destruction of the articular surface. In advanced stages, the patient has a deformity of the joint. Pain relief for severe osteoarthritis involves careful examination of the condition before prescribing a customised treatment.


Ayurveda and osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis is called Sandhigata Vata in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, the reason for osteoarthritis is the rush of morbid Vata into the joints of the body, affecting their mobility and causing pain and inflammation. 

Vata controls joint health and mobility. Any imbalance in Vata Dosha can result in reduced joint lubrication, inflammation and pain. Ayurveda can help in pain relief for osteoarthritis pain and improve lubrication and joint strengthening. The Vata levels can be reduced to improve mobility and reduce pain. 

The unique perspective of Ayurveda is that it traces the disease to accumulated toxins and blocked channels of the body. Reactive arthritis and seronegative arthritis have a direct link to the gut. 

Therefore, the treatment begins with expelling the toxins (Ama) from the gut. Dietary changes are suggested to treat the buildup of Ama and the lowering of the digestive fire (Agni).


Ayurvedic Treatment for Osteoarthritis


Sandhigata Vata is addressed in Ayurveda mainly with rejuvenating and detoxification therapies. The treatment also involves dietary and lifestyle changes and treatments to improve mobility and reduce pain.


External Treatments


Bahya Chikitsa or external treatment for osteoarthritis includes the following:


  • Abhyanga

Abhyanga means oil massage. Ayurveda recommends including Abhyanga in your Dinacharya or daily routine. It is also a great remedy for osteoarthritis.  

You can massage the joints using organic black sesame oil, Adirekha Ayurveda Pain Oil or any other medicated oils. In some cases, a combination of herbal oils and medicated ghee is used. Doing Abhyanga eases the morbid Vata in the joints and also provides relief from inflammation and pain. 


  • Swedana or steam therapy

This therapy involves inducing sweat through any of the different methods recommended in Ayurveda. One way to do it is steaming treatment (applying herbal steam on the whole body or affected joints). Another method is Pinda Sweda, where hot or boiled medications tied in cloth boluses brought down to tolerable heat are used to massage the joints until sweating happens. Swedana provides relief from stiffness by improving joint mobility. It also rejuvenates the joints and relieves pain.


  • Janu Basti

Janu Basti – an Upakarma (subtype) of Panchakarma is also a great remedy for osteoarthritis. 

For this therapy, a dough ring of black gram flour is placed on the affected joint. Medicated oil is poured and placed in the dough ring for nearly an hour. The gentle pressure provided by the warm oil boosts blood circulation to the affected joint. This goes a long way in improving joint mobility and reducing inflammation. 


Internal Treatment


Internal treatment for Osteoarthritis involves some of the steps of Panchakarma. But the treatment methods recommended for a patient depend on factors, such as Prakriti, Dosha imbalances, health conditions and more. 

  • Snehapana

Snehapana involves the consumption of medicated oils or ghee by the patient in prescribed doses. This treatment helps pacify the vitiated Doshas. 


  • Basti 

Basti or medicated enema is best for vitiated Vata.  Medicated oils are used in the enema to balance the Doshas and provide nourishment. 


  • Virechana 

Virechana or therapeutic purgation helps restore Vata imbalance. The patient experiences well-being once the impurities are expelled and the Doshas are in balance. 


Dietary changes for osteoarthritis


Your gut health is everything. The vitiated Vata Dosha that is the main reason for your osteoarthritis could be a result of poor Agni. Therefore, it is important to have foods that can help correct your Agni. You can consult an Ayurvedic doctor to help strategise a diet plan that aligns with your Prakriti, health conditions, Dosha imbalances and more. 

Always opt for warm and freshly prepared foods. Have plenty of vegetables and fruits in your diet. Stay clear of oily food. Include ghee to benefit from its pain-relieving and lubricating properties. Foods that induce inflammation must be avoided. 

Turmeric is rich in anti-inflammatory benefits and must be added while cooking. Ginger offers plenty of anti-inflammatory properties too. Excessive fasting can increase Vata in the body and is not suitable for those suffering from osteoarthritis. 

Include black gram cereals, lentils, pulses and other wholesome foods. Do not eat dry and cold foods. 


Lifestyle changes for osteoarthritis


Correcting your routine and lifestyle as recommended by Ayurveda is equally important to benefit from the treatment and diet for osteoarthritis. 

Patients suffering from osteoarthritis must regularly follow meditation to reduce stress and anxiety. The relaxation it affords can help the pain perception. It is best to practice Yoga under the guidance of a trained practitioner. 

Doing mild exercises on a daily basis can help mobilise the joints. Excessive use of the affected joints will result in pain and inflammation. Also, keep an eye on your weight. 


There is no natural cure for osteoarthritis. It is best to treat osteoarthritis at an early stage. Ayurvedic remedies for osteoarthritis like Panchakarma, Abhyanga, Podikizhi and other therapies are customized per the patient’s requirements. 

Ayurveda cannot cure osteoarthritis but can keep the patient from pain and deterioration. Ayurvedc treatment can reduce the symptoms and the progression of osteoarthritis. If you need any help with the Ayurvedic diet, reach us anytime!

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Consult with Dr. Rekha Radhamony