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Evaluation of a yoga based regimen for treatment of osteoarthritis of the hands 

Research paper by Marian S. Garfinkel, H. Ralph Schumacher, Jr, A Husain, M. Levy, Rosemary Reshetar. Journal of Rheumatology. 1994;21(12):2341-2343. 

This randomized, controlled 8-week trial was conducted to observe the effect of yoga on musculoskeletal symptoms in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the hands. Thirty participants were randomized to either the treatment group (19 patients), which received 1 weekly 60-minute session of therapeutic Iyengar-based yoga, or the control group (11 patients), which received no treatment.

Participants who received the yoga intervention were taught yoga postures that emphasized stretching and strengthening, with a focus on alignment. Sessions included group discussion.

Study variables—which included hand pain, range of motion, tenderness, and hand function—were assessed with the Stanford Hand Assessment questionnaire. Comparison of pre- and post-treatment data revealed:

  • Statistically significant improvement in the yoga group vs the control group in three domains: hand pain during activity, tenderness of the finger joints, and finger range of motion
  • Trends toward improvement in hand pain at rest and hand function in the yoga group vs control   

No adverse effects were reported during the study. The investigators concluded that while the program was effective in providing relief in hand OA, further studies are needed to compare yoga interventions with other treatments, and to observe long-term effects of a yoga intervention for hand OA.

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