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Arthritis is a condition causing inflammation of the joints that affects 20 percent of the Gulf population, as stated in a statement by Middle East Arthritis Foundation. If you or a loved one is suffering from arthritis, you are likely to be experiencing pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. This can lead to loss of mobility and ease of movement of the joints resulting in serious affect in carrying of day to day activities. Regular practice of simple yoga poses can help ease the symptoms of arthritis.

Dr. Humeira Badsha – Consultant Rheumatologist – Board Member at the Middle East Arthritis Foundation, tells us more…

Can people with vulnerable joints practice yoga? If yes, how often?

Yoga is considered a low impact exercise which can safely be practiced by all with arthritis. Regular yoga at least 3 times a week is helpful to people with arthritis.

Is yoga beneficial for people with arthritis?

The Middle East Arthritis Foundation sponsored a study by Dr. Humeira Badsha in Dubai, which was published in Rheumatology International 10/2009 Medical journal entitled “The benefits of yoga for Rheumatoid arthritis”. This study was the first of many showing the great benefits of yoga for arthritis patients. The aim of this study was to measure the effects of a bi-weekly yoga program on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity. Subjects were recruited from among RA patients in Dubai. We collected data on their disease activity indices, health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), and quality of life (QOL) by SF-36 at enrollment and after completion of 12 sessions of yoga. A total of 47 patients were enrolled: 26 yoga and 21 controls. Baseline demographics were similar in both groups. Patients who underwent yoga had statistically significant improvements in their Rheumatoid arthritis disease activity and also in their ability to perform tasks. Our pilot study of 12 sessions of yoga for RA was able to demonstrate statistically significant improvements in RA disease parameters. We believe that a longer duration of treatment could result in more significant improvements.

Does consistent practice of yoga help keep the joints healthy and thereby prevent problems like arthritis?

Yoga helps keep joints flexible and improves their range of motion. Also many poses help to strengthen the muscles, supporting the joints better.

Which yoga poses are most beneficial in treating the pain in arthritis?

The surya namaskar or sun salutation is one of the most complete forms of stretching for the body. It may have been specifically designed to expose different parts of the body to the sun’s rays, getting the benefits of vitamin D. In addition the cobra, bridge, cat and child poses help spine flexibility and ease back pain. Try the tree pose to improve lower limb strength.

Do you offer or know about any special yoga programs in Dubai for helping people with arthritis?

There is an arthritis support group which attends special yoga classes subsidized by the Middle East Arthritis Foundation. These focus on gentler exercises for those with joint pain. Please follow the latest updates on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EmiratesArthritisFoundation/

Is there any age group for the onset of arthritis?

Children can be affected by arthritis and most types of auto-immune arthritis affect young people.

Suggest some lifestyle/dietary changes to help prevent joint problems.

Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Avoid oily and processed foods and foods high in preservatives, sugar, artificial sweeteners or colors. Get adequate calcium in diet and sun exposure for vitamin D

What are the statistics of people with arthritis in the UAE or Middle East?

There are 100 types of arthritis which affect people in all age groups. Overall 20% of people worldwide will be affected by some sort of arthritis and this holds true for the UAE as well.


Arthritis affects a lot of people and early diagnosis is important for successful treatment. Contrary to popular belief, the chronic disease does not only occur in the elderly, children and teenagers are also susceptible, with the most severe forms occurring mostly in younger people, and the average age of onset between 40 and 60 years.

Aiming to create awareness, the Middle East Arthritis Foundation is going to hold a full-day awareness event in Dubai to mark World Arthritis Day (October 12). Concurrent with this year’s global theme – ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today’ – the Foundation will host its annual UAE event for families and carers on Friday, October 13th, 2017 at the Shangri-la hotel, Dubai to raise awareness of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and to encourage physical activity amongst people in the community. The event is free for all to attend and will offer panel discussions, interactive sessions, free ultrasound scan of hands to check for arthritis as well as a free bone density scan for osteoporosis and free interactive quizzes to learn about arthritis and its treatment. Participants will also have an opportunity to take part in a treasure hunt to win spa certificates and hotel vouchers. To register for the event activities, contact Middle East Arthritis Foundation on +971 50 534 31 82.

Dr. Humeira Badsha

Consultant Rheumatologist

Board Member at the Middle East Arthritis Foundation


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