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Yoga Effective in Treating Chronic Low Back Pain

Last Updated: September 04, 2009.

Patients with chronic low back pain derive better results in terms of reduced functional disability, pain and depression when they do a 24-week course of yoga compared with standard medical care, according to a study in the Sept. 1 Spine.

FRIDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with chronic low back pain derive better results in terms of reduced functional disability, pain and depression when they do a 24-week course of yoga compared with standard medical care, according to a study in the Sept. 1 Spine.

Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., of West Virginia University in Morgantown, and colleagues conducted a study of 90 subjects with chronic low back pain, of whom 43 were randomized to participate in a 24-week, biweekly course of Iyengar yoga sessions, while the 47 subjects in the control group received standard medical care.

The researchers assessed the outcome of the two treatment arms after 12, 24 and 48 weeks, and found that clinical improvements were reported at 12 and 24 weeks by a significantly larger proportion of the yoga group than the group receiving standard care, and these subjects also had significantly reduced functional disability at 24 weeks. The authors further note that the yoga group subjects also reported less depression.

"The majority of participants (82 percent) completed the 24-week therapeutic Iyengar yoga intervention, and, as hypothesized, the intervention was effective and efficacious in treating chronic low back pain when compared to standard medical care," Williams and colleagues conclude. "There was also a clinically important trend for the yoga group to reduce their pain medication usage compared to the control group."

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