It is characterized by progressive damage to the joint cartilage, the slippery material at the end of long bones, and causes changes in the structures around the joint.
These changes can include fluid accumulation, bony overgrowth, and loosening and weakness of muscles and tendons, all of which may limit movement and cause pain and swelling.
Ayurvedic therapy is rooted in ancient Indian civilization and is considered to be the precursor to many other forms of Asian medicine. It is practiced popularly in India to treat several chronic disorders.
Researchers recently spent five years studying the safety and effectiveness of ayurvedic herbal drugs, in comparison to glucosamine and celecoxib, two commonly used treatments for OA.
In this randomized, double-blind study, researchers followed 440 with painful knee OA.
After dividing patients into one of four groups (two groups were placed on different types of ayurvedic therapy, one group was placed on glucosamine, and one group on celecoxib), researchers compared the effectiveness and safety of each therapy over a 24-week period by looking at active pain, difficulty and function, and side effects in the patients.
Researchers found that none of the groups experienced serious side effects - those taking ayurvedic therapy showed even fewer side effects overall.
The results showed ayurvedic treatments to be relatively safe and as effective as glucosamine and Celecoxib for improving pain and function in patients with OA.
The study has been presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in San Francisco, California.