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Yoga for Osteoarthritis

Written by Dr. Minakshi Welukar.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which can lead to pain and swelling of your joints. Yoga is a great complimentary practice to help overcome knee osteoarthritis relief, as you're strengthening and loosening your joints, and improving your overall well being.

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Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of pain, and disability imparting poor quality of life. Pharmacological interventions have their own risk and limitations. The body-mind practice of yoga with a principle focus on posture and breathing is a great help in reducing pain, disability, anxiety and sleep disturbances noted in most arthritis patients.

Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, is the result of wear and tear of your joints, which is associated with normal aging. The breaking of cartilage and the rubbing of bones over each other lead to inflammation resulting in pain, swelling and stiffness. Being overweight can also result in osteoarthritis of your knees, ankles and feet. A sport-related injury with a direct impact on your joints is also a risk factor for osteoarthritis.

Yoga can play a role to help manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. The stretching and strengthening in yoga postures can provide musculoskeletal improvement, along with a cognitive focus like distractions. Additionally, yoga has a beneficial effect in reducing weight and inflammation.

The American College of Rheumatology guidelines for the medical management of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee focused on the use of nonpharmacological modalities. These modalities mainly emphasize on muscle-strengthening exercises and physical therapy for improving range of motion. That is also achieved in the practice of yoga.

The knee joint is the most common victim for osteoarthritis, followed by the joints of hands, hip, ankle and foot.

Yoga Therapy in Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a major cause of functional disability causing difficulty while walking.

According to a randomized controlled study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, hatha yoga therapy is good in overcoming functional disability associated with knee arthritis.

The study revealed that an integrated approach of hatha yoga is effective in reducing walking pain and increasing walking duration. Furthermore, therapy is productive in increasing range of knee flexion. Therapy also reduces joint swelling, crepitus and disability.

Another study published in the International Journal of Yoga found out the beneficial role of integrated yoga therapy in improving quality of life of osteoarthritis patients.

Osteoarthritis patients performing integrated yoga consisting of yogic loosening and strengthening asanas, pranayama and meditation can get relieve from joint pain, morning stiffness, and anxiety. Therapy is also effective in controlling blood pressure and pulse rate.

Both studies found the effectiveness of yoga therapy as superior compared to physiological exercises.

Yoga for Osteoarthritis of Hands

Yoga is equally effective in overcoming the osteoarthritis of hands as in knee. Regular practice of yoga significantly improves finger range of motion and relieved pain during movements, reported in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Chair Yoga for Older-Adults with Osteoarthritis

Older adults with difficulty in standing can perform chair yoga, a gentle form of yoga practice by sitting on a chair.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing states that chair yoga is effective in improving physical function and reducing stiffness in older adults with osteoarthritis.

Yoga Reduces Inflammation

Regular practice of yoga reduces the protein that causes inflammation reported on Arthritis Today. Furthermore, yoga improves immune response of the body. Both ways yoga can reduce the signs of inflammation such as pain and swelling and prevent joint damage.

Recommended Yoga Poses for Osteoarthritis

Yoga Journal recommended the following yoga poses for those who suffer from osteoarthritis:

Success of yoga for osteoarthritis strongly depends on pattern of yoga program, time spent on each pose and training from a qualified instructor.

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