Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder characterized by stiffness and pain in joints. It can be accompanied by redness, swelling and restricted motion. Initiation of the pain may be at once or gradually making the patient disable to do its daily routine.
Arthritis is mainly categorized as two types: osteoarthritis and rheumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is degeneration of joints and usually accompanied with age. Rheumatic arthritis is a type of auto-immune disorder that develops after rheumatic fever. This type of arthritis generally affects hands and feet. Other uncommon types are gout, septic, fibromyalgia and lupus.
Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs –ibuprofen are the pharmacological treatment that can bring relieve in pain. Physiotherapy and physical therapy (exercise) also help in maintaining and restoring joint movement by providing strength to muscles.
Arthroscopic surgery, laser therapy and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy are also used to reduce stiffness and pain in joints.

Yoga is a Sanskrit word which means “to unite”. Yoga describes physical, spiritual and mental disciplines that provides health benefits. It originated in ancient India. Rigveda contains a description about yoga and related practices.
Various studies have shown the effectiveness of Yoga in improving the quality of life. National institute of Health (NIH) classifies yoga as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is a practice that provides physical fitness as well as calmness to the brain. It mainly focuses on gaining control over self, breathe and energy.
Yoga has successively been able to attain psychological fitness as well as preventing chronic diseases like cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and sclerosis. Use of yoga on daily basis has also found to reduce weight and contributed to fitness of individual.

Now let’s see how yoga benefits arthritis patients:


a. Help in reducing pain and stiffness.
It has been found that physical therapy is better treatment than any other treatment for arthritis. All other treatment reduce pain but physical therapy, in addition to providing relieve in pain also reduces stiffness and increases joint motion.

A study by Sharon Kolasinski, at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia showed that performing yoga once a week for 8 weeks significantly reduced pain and stiffness in patients with knee arthritis. The scientists are yet to answer whether yoga reduces inflammation of joints or not.

It was found that yoga intervention had an adequate positive effect on pain. It also showed that moderate effect on functionality as compared to control groups. The study disclosed that yoga showed a moderate effect on patients’ mood.

b. Help in blood circulation and Reducing Cardio-vascular disease
Cardio-vascular disease has been a risk factor to osteoarthritis and rheumatic arthritis.
Yoga is primary preventive technique followed by doctors and patients in preventing incidences of cardio-vascular cases. It regulates risk factors like obesity, stress, lipid profile, blood pressure, type II diabetes and body weight and decrease chance of having cardio-vascular diseases.

Yoga exercises improves blood circulation and increase the biosynthesis of red blood cells and hemoglobin. It also detoxify the body by removing toxins from the body. Increased blood circulation in damaged joints provide energy which helps in movement of joint.

This adds to the evidence that performing yoga can reduce the risk of cardio-vascular diseases by improving lipid profile. It can also increase the blood circulation in the inflamed regions, thereby providing the energy to the joint.

c. Help in reducing body mass index (BMI) and Obesity
High body mass adds extra load on the joints especially the knees. According to a longitudinal study, obese women had four times more risk of having osteoarthritis as compared to non-obese women.

Yoga improves metabolic activities and decrease the glucose absorption. It has been used for years to lose weight and regain body fitness. It was seen that reduction in weight by women and men decreased the risk of knee osteoarthritis by 21.5%. Few studies have also shown decrease in pain.

d. Help in recovering with diseases and injuries
Studies reveals that injury in joints or surrounding tissues (accident or some sports) at any point of time may add a risk to arthritis. The researchers are still busy in discovering the mechanism behind it but they suspect injury/fracture may add factors in joint degradation that are irreversible. Researchers believe fractures potentially alter the joint loading, metabolic and biochemical properties of the cartilage which releases inflammatory cytokines.

Paget disease commonly affects femur, spine, skull, and tibia bones. Developing of this disease is unavoidable in almost all cases but can be prevented by maintaining the joint mobility and avoiding weight gain. Both the preventive measure can be achieved by yoga.

Gout is caused by deposition of excess of uric acid in the form of needle-shaped urate crystals in tissues and joints. Yoga has detoxifying effect and removes toxic products from the body as sweat and urine.

Thousands of years old practice of yoga has a proven to have positive impact on quality of life. It is surely a good and recommended therapy for arthritis patients. Yoga reduces the risk factors like cardio-vascular diseases, obesity and several diseases that cause arthritis. It increases the blood circulation in the inflamed joint and surrounding area. It also reduces the stiffness of the joint and provide motility to the organ. Yoga has promising effect on all types of arthritis patient: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

In the Second part of the article we will be sharing the Yoga postures for arthritis as well as precautions to be taken simultaneously while performing Yoga.

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