Arthritis means inflamed joints; and there are many types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis which largely affects the elderly. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis or osteoarthrosis. It is a problem of wear and tear due to excessive use over the years and aggravation of old injuries in those joints. Osteoarthritis mostly affects the weight-bearing joints such as the spine, knees and hips. The base of the thumb, the ends of the fingers and the big toes are also common sites. Osteoarthritis is a chronic and non-systematic disorder of the joints, a low-grade inflammation of the joints because of the degeneration of articular cartilage or the wearing out of the cartilage that covers or cushions the joints. It equally affects both women and men, and the incidence rate increases as age increases. According to World Health Organization, the definitions of an elder or elderly person correlate with the chronological ages of 50 to 65 years, depending on the setting, the region and the country.
Signs & Symptoms of Osteoarthritis:
- pain, swelling or stiffness in one or more joints
- pain or stiffness in the back or neck
- pain and stiffness after activity such as gardening or housework or long walks and on getting up in the mornings, sitting in squatting or sitting position
People who suffer from osteoarthritis will often experience pain when they undergo: weight-bearing activities, walking, standing, or constant mobility. In osteoarthritis, patients’ pain is aggravated when joints or muscles are used; and only when patients rest and relax, it is relieved.
Effect of Yoga practices on Osteoarthritis:
The asanas & relaxation techniques in yoga practices provide systematically graded and gradual increasing range of movements of joints. The regular practice not only helps to mobilize the stiff joints but can prevent further deterioration due to ageing process. The practice of pranayama helps one to move towards a more balanced functioning of all organs of the body including the joints.
The following asanas, relaxation techniques and pranayama are prescribed in yoga for arthritis.
1. I.R.T. (Instant Relaxation Technique)
2. Q.R.T (Quick Relaxation Technique)
3. D.R.T. (Deep Relaxation Technique)
2. Nadisuddhi pranayama
3. Bhramari pranayama
I joined the yoga sessions for elderly persons at Dhrti Yoga Studio BTM 2nd Stage Bangalore on July 28, 2009 when I had completed 61 years of my age and was running 62 years. Never before was I exposed to yoga practices till then in my life. I had the problems of old age diabetes and osteoarthritis at that time. The Director and the instructor of the Yoga centre assured me that yoga practices for diabetes and arthritis would be taken up simultaneously along with common asanas and pranayama in the yoga sessions for elderly persons. I attended yoga sessions regularly at the yoga centre till April 22, 2010 and since April 26, 2010 I am practicing Swadhyaya of Yoga daily at home integrating the asanas and pranayama prescribed for elderly person having diabetes and arthritis. On June 27 , 2010 Satya madam, Director Dhrti Yoga centre gifted me the book ‘Yoga for Arthritis’ authored by Dr R Nagarathna & Dr H R Nagendra during Shatkarma trip to SVYASA Yoga University Bangalore. The book describes theory & practice of Yoga for Arthritis in detail. I could learn the scientific knowledge, skill and practice thoroughly about yoga for arthritis after reading the book and referring the book from time to time. By the long-term practice of yoga for arthritis, I have improved much in flexibility of movements of knee joints and now able to walk 1-2 K.M., sit in Sukhasana cross-legged for more than half an hour at a stretch and do bending exercises of back which I was not able to do before starting yoga practices.
Dr.Mahesh Chandra Panda, M.B.B.S., M.D.