Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is one of the most common joint disorders, affecting the synovial joint characterized by articular cartilage deterioration present in between the articulating joints. In a normal healthy joint, the cartilage and bone homeostasis are maintained, however in an osteoarthritic joint, the equilibrium breaks down with biochemical changes occurring in these tissues.
Commonly, the affected parts of body include the hands, cervical spine, lumbosacral spine, hip joints, knee joints and first metatarsophalangeal joint. Ageing, although contributes to the pathogenesis of the joint disease, is not the only factor. A history of prior injury, genetic factors, diets low in Vitamin D, obesity, abnormal joint mechanics and presence of inflammation heighten the risk of osteoarthritis.
Joint stiffness, effusion, pain and difficulty in performing tasks are the common symptoms affecting individual with osteoarthritis of knee joints. Osteoarthritis also causes malfunction of other joint components such as joint muscles and joint alignment. For instance, muscles surrounding the affected joint weaken as a result of osteoarthritic pain.
Often, individuals suffering from osteoarthritis were treated symptomatically with pain relief medicine, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and surgical intervention.
Yoga is an alternative and holistic approach for preventing and/or relieving of osteoarthritis by correcting factors that can lead to wear and tear of the cartilage such as postural problems, lack of body awareness and misalignment of bones. A great preventive medicine for osteoarthritis is by practicing asanas. Generally individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis tend to avoid using the affected joints because of the pain, swelling and stiffness, resulting in further decreased range of motion and in some cases, serious muscle atrophy of the muscles involved in the movement of the arthritic joint.
Asanas practice not only help to strengthen and maintain muscle flexibility, through the practice; the range of motion also improves significantly. Asana is not the only tool that helps greatly in preventing and/or relieving osteoarthritis. Mindful meditation is a medicine-free option to pain management and emotional upheaval for this chronic disease.
Practicing meditation, under the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher, can help the individual suffering from osteoarthritis to relax the mind and body, release tension and tap into a more positive outlook.