As we enter the latter half of Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, it's a great time to explore this often neglected condition and the therapeutic effects of yoga poses. Many people think of older adults and the elderly when it comes to arthritis, but the disorder is actually made up of a variety of arthritic conditions that destroy the joints, cartilage, bones and muscles. It can greatly hamper movement among people of any age, and when it affect children 16 and under, it's referred to as juvenile arthritis.
The exact cause of joint inflammation that is the overarching symptom of this condition is still unknown, and there are no cures for juvenile arthritis. However, there are ways to control pain, reduce inflammation and enhance quality of life. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help, but there are natural treatments.
Supports Range of Motion in Joints
Yoga poses are gentle on the body, which is ideal for people with limited movement due to joint inflammation. It also works to increase joint function by promoting the flow of synovial fluid, which is found in the joints and allows for smooth movement of the bones. The ancient practice can also strengthen the cartilage in the joints that support muscles and, by helping people reduce their body weight, relieve the joints of pressure that can enhance inflammation and pain.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Juvenile arthritis can greatly affect the mood of young ones. The pain and disability can lead to anxiety and frustration. That's where yoga can help. The soothing movements, mindful meditation techniques and breathing exercises have been used for thousands of years to clear the mind and enhance a sense of tranquility. Children who engage in a regular yoga routine may find with time that they are better able to control their emotions and, in effect, better cope with their juvenile arthritis.
Eases Body Aches and Pains
People of all ages can turn to yoga for relief from pain. It do so by easing the anxiety and stress that often reinforce pain as well as promoting self-healing. As Maureen McBeth, a physical therapist at Baltimore's Mercy Medical Center, told Everyday Health, yoga poses can directly affect inflammation.
"There has been research to measure cytokines, which are markers in the body that indicate inflammation," McBeth said. "Cytokines have actually been found to decrease after people do exercises like yoga."