Yoga therapy better than exercise therapy in reducing disability from osteoarthritic knees

Yoga-Bhudjangasana-Cobra-PoseIn a recent prospective, randomized controlled trial, participants at the Ebnezar Orthopedic Center, Bengaluru who were assigned hatha yoga therapy showed significantly higher improvement on all disability variables over exercise therapy as an adjunct to conventional physiotherapy for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. The study involved 250 outpatients with OA knees, aged 35-80 years.

“An integrated approach of hatha yoga therapy is better than therapeutic exercises as an adjunct to transcutaneous electrical stimulation and ultrasound treatment in improving walking pain, range of knee flexion, walking time, tenderness, swelling, crepitus, and knee disability in patients with OA knees.”
-Ebnezar J, Nagarathna R, Yogitha B, Nagendra HR. Effects of an integrated approach of hatha yoga therapy on functional disability, pain, and flexibility in osteoarthritis of the knee joint: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 May;18(5):463-72.

Key Point: Drug treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) can be costly and have adverse effects when used continuously, so patients seek alternative and complementary therapies. Yoga is shown to be more effective than exercise as an adjunct therapy to conventional physiotherapy. Clinicians should consider incorporating yoga therapy for management of OA knees.

The prevalence of OA in India is 22%-39% and is the second most common rheumatological problem in India. OA is characterized by articular cartilage degeneration and a secondary peri-articular bone response to mechanical damage in joints. Pain and stiffness caused by OA is often treated with non-opioid analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, but these drugs may cause...

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