Chair yoga gives people relief from pain

For 30 million people, that nagging pain in their knee or neck or shoulder is osteoarthritis, and the pain can be disabling.

Americans spend billions every year on over-the-counter and prescription medications, but a researcher in Florida thinks a drug-free option might help many people with osteoarthritis pain.

Nancy Motto has suffered with osteoarthritis for nearly 15 years. "I was taking a lot of ibuprofen. If they said take it every six hours, that's what I did. I didn't even think about it. I just took more," Motto said.

Besides ibuprofen, Motto took five other medications every day for high blood pressure, diabetes and a clogged artery, and she's far from alone.

Juyoung Park, Ph.D., who is an Associate Professor at Florida Atlantic University said, "Statistically, seniors are taking five to six different medications at the same time."

A recent study found 46 percent of people in their 70s take that many. As part of her research, Park manages pain in seniors and launched her own study to find a good, drug-free way to ease the pain of osteoarthritis. Her finding? Try chair yoga.

"Pain is really significantly reduced. Also pain interference has been decreased during the intervention and also even during the follow-up," Park said.

In the trial, 80 percent of the patients doing chair yoga lowered their pain levels.

Motto says, for her, trying a chair yoga program had significant impact. "It has improved my life," she said, "It's definitely improved the way I feel."

Not only that, but by doing chair yoga, she's lowered her high blood pressure to the point where she was able to stop taking three different hypertension drugs. "And now there's no blood pressure medicine," Motto said.

Who knew a chair could be a pain killer?

Park said her study also found chair yoga improves mobility and fatigue for seniors. She is currently studying how chair yoga can affect people with dementia.
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