Yoga proves to be effective treatment for chronic lower back pain

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A mat, shoes, towel and water bottle are some of the items used when practicing yoga.
A mat, shoes, towel and water bottle are some of the items used when practicing yoga.

Yoga classes designed to address lower back pain produced results similar to physical therapy for people with chronic lower back pain, a Boston Medical Center study has found.

“The large impact of chronic low back pain on suffering, disability and cost means we need to explore other treatment models that can offer relief, and our study indicates that yoga classes tailored to back pain patients may be a safe and effective option,” said Robert Saper, M.D., MPH, study author, family physician and director of integrative medicine at BMC.

The study included 320 adults with chronic lower back pain. Participants were divided into two groups and were observed over a 12-week study period and a 40-week maintenance period.

Participants in the yoga group took a weekly class for the first period, and then they attended drop-in classes or practiced at home in the second period. Those in the physical therapy group went to 15 sessions in the first period, and then they went to booster sessions or did exercises at home for the second session.

After the three months of more intensive treatment and the nine more months of maintenance treatment, study participants in each treatment group expressed similar satisfaction with the treatment and their pain levels.

This study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, has posted information about yoga and tips for older adults on its website.

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