Low Back Pain? Try Yoga
Low back pain is common—it affects about 80 percent of men and women at some point in their lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—and traditional back pain treatments, such as pain medication, muscle strengthening exercises, and physical therapy are often ineffective. Research suggests yoga may help relieve back pain at least as well as traditional therapies and can provide “short- and long-term benefits” for people with back pain.
Chronic low back pain—pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, may recur for years, and can be difficult to treat—develops in about 20 percent of people with low back pain and affects racial and ethnic minorities and those from a lower socioeconomic background more often. A new study conducted by the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts and recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looked at the effects of yoga on these populations.
The study involved 320 people with low back pain, divided into three groups. One group attended weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks, another group received 15 physical therapy sessions, and the third group was given an educational book and newsletters on managing chronic back pain. The study also included a 40-week maintenance phase and one-year follow-up. According to researchers, yoga was as effective as physical therapy for low back pain.