Rheumatoid Arthritis : Does Yoga Help?

One of the common medical management for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is exercise. Regular exercise plays a crucial role in keeping muscles strong that hold the joints and reducing joint stiffness.

An Overview on Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a symmetrical joint disorder that usually affects both hands and both knees. It is a form of autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its very own healthy cells. A person who has rheumatoid arthritis experiences pain in the joint, stiffness especially in the morning, joint swelling and fatigue. Rheumatoid arthritis affects all ages but it appears that more women than men suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

Home remedies for rheumatoid arthritis include warm and cold compress, low purine diet and regular exercise.

Benefits of Yoga in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Physical activity plays a big part in curbing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. While exercises such as walking and swimming are good alternatives for fighting off rheumatoid arthritis, study shows that yoga reap more health benefits compared to other physical activities. Yoga not only improves blood circulation around joints but it also reduces the risks for heart diseases and diabetes, two common disorders associated with arthritis.

According to Arthritis Foundation, certain yoga poses can provide marked difference in joint swelling and tenderness. Yoga is a very flexible exercise in which movements can be tailored to the client’s specific needs. Yoga helps improve physical symptoms of arthritis, such as it makes better flexibility of joints and lessen joint pain. It also promotes better sleep as yoga relieves joint and muscle tension.

In addition to physical benefits, yoga exercises also improve psychological wellness among individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. It is known that rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that is exacerbated with stress, and yoga is a type of exercise that can help address such problem. Yoga has mood-boosting impact that helps decrease both stress and anxiety levels in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, thus building positive feelings. The different body positions of yoga also help a person relax and calm. Hence, yoga lets go muscle tension.

Talking to Doctor

It should be mentioned that yoga should not be seen as a sole treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. It is rather a complementary cure along with proper diet and pharmacological therapy for arthritis. Yoga is a safe practice for joints but with certain limitations. A person who is new to yoga should avoid aggressive forms of the exercise such as hot yoga and Kundalini. Experts advise to always take gentle approach. Talk to your doctor and if possible, hire a yoga professional. Look for a yoga instructor that has advanced training experience in handling people with arthritis.

If you are suffering joint pain, postpone yoga, or in the event of flare-ups, make sessions less intense or shorter.

Research on Yoga and Arthritis

The benefits of yoga exercises in improving arthritis symptoms are backed by medical studies. Some preliminary studies on yoga for arthritis reap promising results with regard to improving joint health. However, studies on mental and emotional advantages for rheumatoid arthritis are few and have limited scope. Thus, more studies need to be done in these aspects.

In a 2005-study, individuals diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis reported better physical and mental health after 8 weeks of performing hatha yoga. Subjects of the study also reported enjoyment while doing the yoga and even performed yoga after the study.