Arthritis is the painful inflammation of a joint or joints of the body, usually producing heat and redness. There are many kinds of arthritis. In its various forms, arthritis disables more people than any other chronic disorder. The condition can be brought about by nerve impairment, increased or decreased function of the endocrine glands, or degeneration due to age. Less frequently, it is caused by infection (tuberculosis, gonorrhea, Lyme disease, rheumatic fever).
Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease of unknown cause, is the most crippling form. Women are much more susceptible to it than men. Although rheumatoid arthritis usually appears between the ages of 25 and 50, it also occurs in children. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, occurs usually in people over 50. It tends to be more severe when the joints have been strained by obesity or overwork.
Gout, the third most common form of arthritis, affects men almost exclusively. Symptomatic treatment for arthritis includes use of heat, physical therapy, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as cox-2 inhibitors (Celebrex and Vioxx), aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Remission of symptoms can sometimes be achieved with methotrexate, gold salts, penicillamine, and short-term cortisone, but they often have undesirable side effects. Orthopedic surgery, including artificial joint implantation, may be done in severe cases.
It has been nine months since I started doing Bikram Yoga in September 2004. When I first came to Yoga Tree (melbourne, Australia), I could hardly walk or stretch my arms due to arthritis. My swollen knees hindered me from squatting therefore I could not do the floor series. After a few lessons, I was getting a little bit better.
About three weeks later, I consulted a rheumatologist and started receiving cortisone treatment. My pain reduced gradually as I kept practising yoga and taking medicine. The teachers at Yoga Tree were very delighted for the great improvement I made in my postures. In November 2004, I consulted another rheumatologist when I was abroad hoping to get a second opinion. This doctor wrongly prescribed a medicine for me and I had taken it for 4-1/2 months until I came back to Melbourne and consulted the first rheumatologist I met. The local rheumatologist was so concerned that this medicine could have suppressed my immune system and at the same time harm my liver. He immediately asked me to have a blood test and luckily the report showed that I still had a healthy liver. I am confident this must be the magic of yoga. I stopped cortisone treatment in March 2005 and I am doing yoga four times a week. My pain has settled down even without any medication now.
Yoga incredibly improved my digestive system, my flexibility and I can do Tai Chi better.
From the first time I stepped into Yoga Tree, the enthusiasm of the teachers and the support and care they gave were indeed fundamental throughout my journey in fighting the pain. I hereby take this opportunity to express my earnest appreciation to everyone in Yoga Tree.
Yolanda, June 2005