Yoga Proven to Ease Back Pain

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Over three years ago, I was a regular at my chiropractic’s office suffering from moderate-severe low back pain. My pattern of increasing pain followed by chiropractic visits continued until my chiropractor suggested I start a regular Yoga, Pilates or stretching regimen. When I did finally take his advice, I began taking yoga classes at my local YMCA- I have not been back to the chiropractor since!

Just in case one person’s opinion does not sway you, I did a little digging and found some great research studies that found similar effects when yoga was implemented as a program for decreasing low-back pain.

The largest randomized and controlled study to date relating yoga to back pain was published by the Archives of Internal Medicine in October 2011; the study group included 228 adults in six cities with moderate back pain. The study’s results showed that weekly yoga and stretching classes were effective in the treatment of low back pain, as well as in the improvement of back mobility. The benefits of both types of classes were even shown to last months after the classes ended (Sherman et al., 2011).

In another article from 2012, Tekur and colleagues initiated a seven day randomized control, single blind active study in Bangalore, India. Eighty patients with Chronic Low Back Pain (CLBP) were assigned either to a yoga program or a physical exercise program. The Yoga program consisted of specific movements and postures for back pain while the control group (physical exercise program) included physical therapy exercises for back pain. Results showed that seven days of an intensive residential Yoga program reduced pain and improved spinal mobility in patients with CLBP more effectively than physiotherapy exercises (Tekur et al., 2011).

Back pain is the most common cause of job related disability and Americans spend over 50 billion dollars per year on back pain (Sherman et al., 2011). Various treatments are available, but few have actually proved effective in getting to the root of the problem (consider medicines that can mask the pain while the problem remains). Sherman and colleagues (2011) found that after 12 weeks of yoga or stretching classes (75 minute classes), nine out of ten participants reported improved back related function and decreased use of pain medications with results lasting at least 6 months. “Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain” – Dr. Karen Sherman of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

References:
1. Sherman, K.J., et al. (2011) “A randomized trial comparing yoga, stretching, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain.” Arch Intern Med. 171(22):2019-2026.
2. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1106098  (accessed August 17th 2012)”Largest U.S. Study Shows Yoga Eases Back Pain.” American Fitness. March-April 2012: 8. Print.
3. Tekur, P., et al. (2012) “A comprehensive yoga program improves pain, anxiety and depression in chronic low back pain patients more than exercise: An RCT.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 20 (3):107–118.

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