May 2012

Hatha yoga outperforms traditional exercise for relief of OA-related pain

In the moment: Knee OA

By Emily Delzell

A study e-published in April by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests hatha yoga is superior to therapeutic exercises in reducing osteoarthritis-related walking pain.

Investigators from Ebnezar Orthopedic Center in Bangalore, India, randomized 250 outpatients with radiographic knee OA to two weeks of daily 20-minute physiotherapy sessions (transcutaneous electrical stimulation and ultrasound) plus 40 minutes of either hatha yoga or therapeutic exercises. Patients, who were recruited from an Indian orthopedic center, were aged 35 to 80 years and reported moderate to severe pain with walking before the interventions.

Both groups practiced yoga or the exercises, which involved stretching and strengthening movements for all upper and lower limb joints, in supervised daily sessions for two weeks, followed by 12 weeks of daily home practice. Investigators assessed patients’ walking pain, knee disability, range of motion, and other measures at baseline and 15 and 90 days.

Improvements in walking pain and time; range of knee flexion; joint tenderness, swelling, and crepitus; and knee disability were significantly greater in the yoga group than the exercise group at both 15 and 90 days.


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 Apr 26. [Epub ahead of print.]

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