Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yoga for Pain Relief

Yoga asana and meditation reduces pain in those suffering from a number of conditions including: carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and rheumatoid disorders, back pain, headaches and fibromyalgia. Let us take a look at each of the above conditions to find out why yoga is one of the best natural forms of pain relief around.

The first scientific study which showed yoga to successfully treat carpal tunnel syndrome was published in 1988 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Since then it has been widely accepted that yoga treats CTS as well as pain associated with it. Because carpal tunnel syndrome is not just a problem of the wrists but also of the neck and shoulders, yoga poses that encourage proper posture are especially helpful. In addition to these, there are many wrist exercises such as prayer pose and reversed prayer pose and alternating flexion and extension of the wrists which help to reduce pain.

In 1999 a study at the Pain Center at Texas Tech University found that gentle yoga poses and meditation reduced pain associated with fibromyalgia while improving patients’ ability to cope with it. In regards to osteoarthritic conditions, yoga helps to prevent or minimize the breaking down of cartilage that causes the joint pain of osteoarthritis. It also helps expand the range of motion while decreasing pain within joins that have already undergone damage. Because misalignment is a major cause of arthritic conditions, yoga poses that focus on proper alignment are of great benefit.

Yoga is known to reduce back pain while encouraging stress release, proper posture, letting go of tightness in the muscles and strengthening muscles. Yoga helps increase flexibility of the spine which also helps. Back pain sufferers should practice yoga poses such as cat/cow, cobra pose, various hip stretches, triangle pose, child’s pose and relaxation pose.

Yoga comes to the rescue when headaches occur because stress is such a major factor in tension headaches and migraines. Yoga teaches us to relax the muscles of the neck while slowing down in our lives to be aware of other possible causes of chronic headaches. Breathing exercises and restorative poses are especially helpful in relieving pain associated with headaches.

A study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology found that a three month program of gentle yoga postures and pranayama resulted in improved grip strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga has also been known to relieve pain in those suffering from heart conditions, cancer and HIV/AIDS. As yoga continues to be accepted in the medical community we will find more and more evidence that yoga is one of the best pain medications on the market.

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