Can chair yoga really be an effective way to regulate pain in the senior population? One expert says yes.
For 30 million people, that nagging pain in their knee or neck or shoulder is osteoarthritis. And the pain can be disabling.
We spend billions every year on over-the-counter and prescription meds. But a Florida researcher thinks she has another, drug-free option.
Nancy Motto has suffered with osteoarthritis for nearly 15 years.
“I was taking a lot of ibuprofen," she said. "If they said take it every six hours, that’s what I did. I didn’t even think about it. I just took more.”
Beside the ibuprofen, Nancy took five other medications every day for high blood pressure, diabetes and a clogged artery. She isn’t alone.
“Statistically, seniors are taking five to six different medications at the same time,” said Dr. Juyoung Park, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University.
In fact, 46 percent of seniors in their 70s take that many. Park manages pain in seniors, and she launched her own study to find a good, drug-free way to ease osteoarthritis pain. She says chair yoga is the answer.
“Pain is really significantly reduced," she said. "Also, pain interference has been decreased during the intervention and also even during the follow-up.”
In the trial, 80 percent of the patients doing chair yoga decreased their pain.
“It has improved my life," Nancy said. "It’s improved the way I feel.”
Chair yoga also dropped her high blood pressure low enough for Nancy to drop three different hypertension drugs.
“And now there’s no blood pressure medicine,” she said.
Park says her study also found chair yoga improves mobility and fatigue for seniors. She is currently studying how chair yoga can affect people with dementia.
BACKGROUND: Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States. By conservative estimates, about 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects at least 31 million Americans. The number of people expected to have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2040 is more than 78 million. Doctor-diagnosed arthritis is more common in women at 26 percent than in men at 18 percent. In some types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, women far outnumber men. Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go, and can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities or to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes.
(Source: https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/arthritis-statistics-facts.php and https://www.arthritis.org/Documents/Sections/About-Arthritis/arthritis-facts-stats-figures.pdf)
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS: Osteoarthritis symptoms can usually be effectively managed, although the underlying process cannot be reversed. Staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and other treatments may slow progression of the disease and help improve pain and joint function. Your doctor will closely examine your affected joint, checking for tenderness, swelling or redness, and for range of motion in the joint. The doctor may also recommend imaging and lab tests. Pictures of the affected joint can be obtained by x-rays. Cartilage doesn't show up on x-ray images, but cartilage loss is revealed by a narrowing of the space between the bones in your joint. An x-ray may also show bone spurs around a joint. An MRI uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to produce detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage. An MRI isn't commonly needed to diagnose osteoarthritis but may help provide more information in complex cases. Although there is no blood test for osteoarthritis, certain tests may help rule out other causes of joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor may use a needle to draw fluid out of the affected joint. Examining and testing the fluid from your joint can determine if there's inflammation and if your pain is caused by gout or an infection.
BREAKTHROUGH OSTEOARTHRITIS MOLECULE: Denis Evseenko, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, is accelerating the discovery of novel ways to heal damaged joints and regenerate healthy tissue. “Currently, the only treatments for osteoarthritis are pain control and total joint replacement,” says Dr. Evseenko. “New strategies to prevent osteoarthritis and repair damaged cartilage are urgently needed.” In the hope of translating basic research into vital therapies, Dr. Evseenko’s lab is investigating two complementary approaches. “We are in the late stages of preclinical development of a potential molecule (drug) that appears to have profound anti-inflammatory and growth-stimulating activity,” he explains. “At the same time, we are working to scale up the production of stem cells that can become cartilage, which can be implanted into joints to repair localized defects.”