October 12 is observed as World Arthritis Day. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints which can leave us crippled. Today, it is a menace in all parts of the globe, including India. India, in fact, can become the home of 60 million osteoarthritis patients by the year 2025. Every year, over 15 million adults (aged between 30 and 50) are diagnosed with this particular form of arthritis, which is also the most common type, in this country. Indians are affected by arthritis more than any other common disease.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is not a single disease but an informal way of describing severe pains in the joints, swelling of the limbs and stiffness. Medication and physiotherapy can help alleviate some pain while sometimes, surgery is also advised. But the ailment can never be completely cured. However, a healthy living, eating habits, exercise and yoga can help a patient to cope with reduced effects of the ailment to a great extent. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and people of all age groups and sexes (women though are more prone to suffer from it because of bone-related reasons) can be affected by it.
Causes of arthritis:
Our body joints have a firm but flexible connective tissue called cartilage. It protects the joints by absorbing the pressure created when one moves and puts stresses on them. A reduction in the cartilage tissue causes some form of arthritis. However, the exact cause of arthritis is still not known. Some probable reasons are:
· Injury, particularly those caused during sporting activities
· Overusing electronic gadgets that affects our fingers, wrists, elbows, spine, hip, etc.
· Autoimmune disorders
· Smoking, which increases chances of rheumatoid arthritis
· Overweight issues, which put pressure on joints, particularly knees, joints and hip
· Genetic factors
· Metabolic disorder
Symptoms and diagnosis of arthritis:
Common symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness and swelling and difficulty in movement. For those having arthritis, movement becomes particularly bad early in the morning and during winter.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, fatigue and loss of appetite due to inflammation, anaemia caused by a decrease in red blood cells and fever are common symptoms. Severe rheumatoid arthritis can cause deformity in joints.
Your doctor will examine the accumulation of fluid around the joints and analyse the inflammation levels in the blood and joint fluids to determine the nature of arthritis. Images of bones and cartilage can be examined through imaging scans like X-ray, MRI and CT scans.
Yoga to cope with arthritis:
Yoga is an effective way to cope with arthritic pain. During yoga, the body stretches itself, giving a boost to its flexibility. However, it is important to make the movements carefully and postures that cause discomfort should not be continued with. The deep breathing also soothes the body and mind.
Here are five yoga asanas that help, if you have arthritis:
1. Surya Namaskar or sun salutation: Stand straight facing the early morning sun with both feet touching and bring your hands together. Join the palms against each other and put them in front of your chest in a praying position. Exhale and raise the arms. Bend backward slowly and stretch your arms above the head. Slowly bend forward from the waist but keep the spine erect. Bring the arms down to touch the floor, beside the feet. While inhaling, push your right leg back as far as possible. Bring your left knee to the floor and look upwards. Then, take the left leg back and bring the entire body in a straight alignment. Bring your knees to the floor and exhale. Bring your hips back slightly, slide in front and rest your front on the ground and raise the back slightly up. Repeat the same with the right knee as well.
2. Savasana or corpse posture: A relaxing pose which allows the body to recover. Lie down on your back with all four limbs stretched out. Breathe slowly and methodically. It soothes your mind, calms your blood pressure and cures headache.
3. Anjaneyasana or Crescent Lunge: Take position of a lunge. Put your right knee to the floor. Bring it closer so that the left leg presses on the ground. Bring the arms above your head in a way that it comes in an alignment with the ears. Repeat the same with the left knee.
4. Setubandhasana or Bridge Posture: This yoga asana helps your spine and hip joints and gives relief from pain and discomfort in these regions. In this, lie flat on your back and stretch out the arms by your side. Keep the palms down. Put your upper arms and feet on the floor and push your hips towards the ceiling. Distribute your body weight equally on the inside and outside of your feet. Move your chest bone towards the chin and lift the chin slightly upward. Keep the knees over the ankles, perpendicular to the ground.
5. Vriksha Asana or Tree Posture: Another excellent yoga asana for your joints and muscles as this boosts your blood circulation around the arthritic joints and alleviates the pain. Stand upright with your feet joining together and knees remaining straight. The arms should be placed on the sides. Without bending the left knee, lift the right foot and hold the ankle with your right hand. The right leg should be folded at the knee joint. Then with the help of both hands, put the right heel on the left thigh with the toes pointing downwards. The right heel should press the thigh's inside. Keep yourself balanced on the left leg. Next, join your palms and fingers and bring them to the left leg and then to the middle of the chest. The fingers should be pointing upwards in a praying pose. Breathe and raise your joined hands slowly over the head. Stretch up and stand straight, maintaining your balance.