Articles

Yogic Treatment for Arthritis

Author: Tamar Yitzhaki

Tamar Yitzhaki

 Arthritis is a degenerative process disease which caused inflammation and deterioration of the joints that can be irreversible. There are many different types of arthritis, but all of them have the same symptoms: pain, swelling, redness, heat, and loss of function of the joint. Usually the joints that are affected are the hips, knees, ankles, and small joints, such as fingers.

Different types of the disease

Acute Arthritis
Acute Arthritis comes from virus or bacteria that accumulate in the joint fluids through the blood circulation. This will usually come back to normal after the bacteria die

Gout
Gout is a special form of acute arthritis that is caused an accumulation or uric acid in the joint fluid. This is a result of self-poisoning by eating an improper diet.  

Rheumatoid Arthritis
By means of an acute (throat) infection or a side effect from a powerful drug, foreign substances circulate in the blood and then accumulate in the joint spaces. The body then sends blood cells to fight the infection which is very difficult to remove once in the joints. The joint tissues are not attacked but the fight is happening in them. This can destroy major joints in a few months. Usually, Rheumatoid Arthritis happens with emotional shock, causing the immune system to be very weak. It is common amongst young and middle-aged people.

Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a process of degeneration of cartilage, due to excess calcium in the body. It is sometimes caused by an imbalance of the parathyroid glands but more often develops in a joint that had an injury earlier in life. This type is more common in middle and older aged people.

Physiology of Arthritis

The joint is the connection between two bones by ligament. Between the bones there is cartilage, and in this cavity there is a fluid that lubricates the joint. The blood circulation flows through the joint and all of the waste products that are in the blood flow into the body. When there is a problem in the joint, the toxins are accumulating in the joint fluid and causes pain, stiffness, and also inflammation.

Causes

Diet
Overeating and a diet excessive in meat, animal fat, oily food, and milk. Constipation aggravates the disease.

Exercise
Lack of exercise causes stiffness in the body.

Mental and Emotional Factors
Fear, tension, suppression of emotion, anger, emotional shock

 

Treatment

The treatments for arthritis are usually geared at helping to relieve pain by using pain-killers and anti-inflammatory agents. In more severe cases they use corticosteroids which come with many side effects. The last step is surgical removal of the joint and replacing it with an artificial one. Modern medicine doesn’t treat the causes of the disease; it only temporarily relieves the symptoms.

The yogic treatment for arthritis looks at the cause of the disease, and when the disease is in the early stages, it can offer a cure. It will provide pain relief as well as a method to relax the mind, which has a major effect on the disease.

Asanas
Usually when someone suffers from pain in a joint, they will try not to move the joint because of the pain. This usually creates more problems in the joint because there is no blood circulation in the area, so the toxins stay in the joint and create ‘rust’. With asana practice, we can use movement to allow a gentle range of motion of the joint. This removes toxins and lubricates the joint, thus helping blood to flow to the area and decrease pain.

The best asana practice for arthritis is an anti-rheumatic group of pawanmuktasanas that move, relax, and massage the joints. Many preparatory movements can also be practiced at a very slow speed and with a relaxed body, focusing the mind on the painful joints. There are other asanas that can be practiced, but only when the condition of the patient is getting better. These will help to prevent further arthritic problems in the future.

Pranayama
Pranayama helps make the digestive system stronger, and helps to eliminate toxins from the body. Heating pranayama stimulates the prana in the body and in the joints, improving circulation.

Shatkarma
Shatkarmas are important for cleaning out all of the toxins from the digestive system. If the digestive system is clean, the toxins will not accumulate in the joints. Also, if there is constipation, this can get worse. Vaman, Neti, Poorna, and Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana are good for this. Agnisar, Uddiyan Bandh, and Kapalbhati should be practiced daily.

Meditation and Yoga Nidra
One cause of arthritis is mental and emotional imbalance. To work on balancing the mind, Yoga Nidra can relax the stress, fears, and anger. Meditation and Antar Mouna can help to change ones negative patterns of the mind, and to accept and observe their condition. By practicing these one can heal at a faster pace.

Omkar Chanting
Omkar chanting relaxes the mind and creates vibrations in the body. With this, the prana can flow through the body more freely, releasing the ‘rust’ that has been accumulated in the joints.

Heat and Massage
Heat is important when the joint is infected. If it is in cold weather, the condition will get worse. There are many ways to keep it warm, like a hot bath, steam, and application of special oils on the joint. Massaging the area will keep it lubricated and warm. This will help to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation, and help the body to produce natural lubricants to the joint.

Amardi
Drinking three glasses of fresh urine a day, and applying it onto the joint with massage can be helpful in cases where steroids have stopped affecting the patient.

Diet
Many times people who suffer from arthritis also suffer from obesity. Obesity causes the joints to be weak, so the first thing to do is control the weight. The best approach would be to reduce the intake of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, milk products, white flour, and spicy food. The diet should include plenty of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lightly cooked grains. By maintaining a healthy diet, the digestive system will be less toxic and will not need to work as hard. Improper nutrition such as fast food and preserved food causes a tremendous strain on the system. Some foods are more allergenic and can cause an increase in swelling and inflammation in the joints so consulting with a nutritionist is recommended.

Exercise
It is important for arthritis patients to maintain the movement in the joint and exercise is the best way to do this.  Even if the patient does not feel like doing exercise, a simple walk can be very effective. Swimming or other simple exercises like body movement and yoga asanas will prevent the condition from getting worse, as well as help to lubricate the area and reducing pain.

Contra-Indications
Asanas
Suryanamaskar, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Shirshasana, and all variations

Pranayama
Left nostril breathing, Sheetali, Sitkari

Do’s and Don’ts
Do-

• Practice asanas with slow movements.

• Correlate movements with breath when practicing asanas

• Keep total awareness of the movements

Don’t-

• Practice asanas that will put a strong pressure on the joint

• Overstretch the joint. This can cause more damage.

General Practice Program

Asana/Yoga Movement

Duration(minutes)

Shavasana
2

Padanduli and Goolf Naman (Supine)
3

Goolf chakra (Supine)
1

Janu Naman 1,2,3 (Knee movements)
7

Mushtika Bhandana, Manibhanda Naman and Chakra (wrist movements)
4

Arm movement types 1,2,3
5

Leg movment types 2,3
4

Shavasana
2

Deep breathing in Tadagasan
4

Neck movement types 1,2 and Data Mudra
6

Vajrasana
1

Marjarasana (cat pose)
3

Shashank Bhujangasana
3

Makrasana
3

Aarkana Dhaurasana 1,2
5

Swastikasana
1

Nadi Shodhana
5

Kapalbhati (3 x 120)
4

Bhastrika Pranayam
5

Right nostril inhalation, Bhramari Exhalation
8

Omkar Chanting
4

Shavasana
10

Total

90

 

Other Practices

Duration

Vaman Dhouti

Once a week

Lagoo Shankhaprakshalana

Once a week

Yoga Nidra

Once a day

“The views expressed above are solely those of the author. Yogapoint.com may or may not agree with these statements.”

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