Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease with no cure and no great method of prevention. Thus, health breakthroughs in this area generally focus on alleviating symptoms and attempting to halt the spread of the disease. A new study has identified one of the most popular therapies in alternative health as having great potential for RA patients. It is yoga.
Individuals with RA who practice yoga showed statistically significant improvements in disease activity, according to a study presented at the recent EULAR 2011 Annual Congress.
The results of the study, on 47 patients (26 yoga patients and 21 controls): patients who completed 12 sessions of yoga showed significant improvements in the activity of the disease. In this way, people can exert some measure of control over their own condition.
The style of yoga was “Raj,” which is a gentle form, combining exercise and breathing techniques. Unfortunately, most RA patients don’t exercise regularly despite the fact that its known to reduce pain and improve fitness. This study, while quite small, still shows a clear benefit for patients who regularly practice Raj yoga. They believe that continuing with yoga over the long term could result in greater and greater improvements in the disease.
Another study showed the positive effects of yoga on the quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. This relatively mysterious condition is a chronic one that can cause extreme pain all over the body. This one showed that eight sessions of yoga led to a significant decrease in anxiety in these patients and better disease scores. This was a classic yoga that combined gentle postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Anxiety is a key symptom in people with fibromyalgia, and relieving it can be a huge factor in improving quality of life.