Chronic Back Pain Eased by Yoga, Study Says

Sufferers of chronic back pain are often left with few options for effective treatments, often relying on chiropractors with varying degrees of success or managing the condition with painkillers or muscle relaxants.

But a new study reveals that another technique may be effective at reducing pain for those who deal with chronic back pain- yoga and stretching. While no underlying mental clarity or benefits in general were found to come along with regular yoga practice, a link was drawn between the activity and reduction of chronic back pain.

The study is considered to be the largest of its kind, involving 228 adults who suffered chronic back pain without a precipitate such as a slipped disc. The participants were divided into three groups, two of which attended classes, while the third received a self-care book with exercises.

The participants in the classes group reported feeling “much better” or “completely better” at a rate of about 50%, versus 20% for the self-care group. Karen J. Sherman was the study’s lead author, and is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington as well a senior investigator with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. Sherman noted:

“…we’re not talking about a person with severe back pain who is unable to move their body. But for the typical back-pain patient both approaches are certainly better than what people usually do, which is take some meds and tough it out. And both seem to afford more clinically meaningful improvements than simply giving a patient a self-care book.”

While acknowledging it is crucial to find a program that is the right fit for individual issues, Sherman said:

“In both groups, people had less pain and were more able to carry on with their lives in terms of the activities of daily living.”