Yoga is an effective alternative to physical therapy for easing low back pain

June 19, 2017
yoga
Credit: Anna Langova/public domain

A study of 320 predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with chronic low back pain found that yoga was as safe and effective as physical therapy for restoring function and relieving pain. Compared to an education only intervention, patients who did yoga or physical therapy were also less likely to take pain medications at 12 weeks. The findings are published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Chronic low back pain affects approximately 10 percent of U.S. adults and has a greater impact on racial or ethnic minorities and in people of lower socioeconomic status. Physical therapy is the most common evidence-based, reimbursable, and non-pharmacologic therapy prescribed by physicians, but clinical guidelines, meta-analyses, and several large randomized controlled trials also support . How these two therapies stack up against one another has not been studied. Moreover, little is known about yoga's effectiveness in underserved patients with more severe functional disability and pain.

Researchers from Boston Medical Center randomly assigned participants to 12 weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy visits, or an educational book and newsletters about coping with chronic low back pain. Following the intervention phase, participants continued with a maintenance phase and were followed to one year. The goal of the noninferiority trial was to determine if yoga was statistically as effective as physical therapy.

The researchers found that a yoga class designed for chronic patients was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain, improving function, and lowering use of . Improvements in yoga and physical therapy groups were maintained at 1 year with no differences between maintenance strategies. The researchers conclude that yoga may be a reasonable alternative to depending upon patient preferences, availability, and cost.

Explore further: New study finds that yoga can be helpful for low back pain

More information: Abstract: http://annals.org/aim/article/doi/10.7326/M16-2579
Editorial: http://annals.org/aim/article/doi/10.7326/M17-1263

Related Stories

New study finds that yoga can be helpful for low back pain

February 6, 2017
Over the course of their lives, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain at one time or another. A recent study found that more than a third of adults say that low back pain has affected their ability to perform ...

Chair yoga helps older adults manage osteoarthritis pain

December 29, 2016
(HealthDay)—Chair yoga may produce sustained improvements in pain interference among older adults with lower extremity osteoarthritis (OA), according to a study published online Dec. 23 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics ...

Yoga may have health benefits for people with chronic non-specific lower back pain

January 12, 2017
A new systematic review, published in the Cochrane Library today, suggests that yoga may lead to a reduction in pain and functional ability in people with chronic non-specific lower back pain over the short term, compared ...

Weekly yoga class yields similar lower back pain relief as two classes

July 2, 2013
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) have found that a weekly yoga class provided similar lower back pain relief and reduced the need for pain medication as twice weekly ...

Research evaluates effectiveness of yoga in treating major depression

May 8, 2017
When treating depression, the goal is to help individuals achieve full recovery and normal functioning. While traditional treatment such as medication or psychotherapy is effective for many patients, some may not fully recover ...

Can yoga reduce symptoms of menstrual disorders?

April 27, 2017
A systematic review of the published literature on yoga practice and common menstrual disorders found that all of the studies evaluated reported a beneficial effect and reduced symptoms. The impact of a range of yoga interventions ...

Recommended for you

Exercising immediately after study may help you remember

August 24, 2017
Exercise may be the secret to retaining information, according to new research from UNSW that may encourage more physical activity in classrooms and nursing homes.

Americans misinformed about smoking

August 22, 2017
After voluminous research studies, numerous lawsuits and millions of deaths linked to cigarettes, it might seem likely that Americans now properly understand the risks of smoking.

Women who sexually abuse children are just as harmful to their victims as male abusers

August 21, 2017
"That she might seduce a helpless child into sexplay is unthinkable, and even if she did so, what harm can be done without a penis?"

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.