Researchers at Boston University found that 12 weeks of hiatha yoga had a significant improvement in low back pain in comparison to patients that continued traditional treatment for their low back pain. The study was recently published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. The research study followed a total of 30 patients that either participated in a 12 week hiatha yoga class and also were given instructions on home yoga exercises or a second (control group of patients continued their currently prescribed treatment for their low back pain.
At the conclusion of the twelve week study, the yoga group had an 80% reduction in their use of pain medication. Additionally, 73% of the yoga group felt that their back pain had subjectively improved. This finding was significant since only 27% in the control or “treatment as usual” group felt that their back pain had improved at the end of the 3 month study. The researchers also found a decrease in the level of the pain reported by the yoga group with the reported change in low back pain reduced by roughly one-third from when they started the 12 week program. Compare this to the “no yoga” group which only reported about a 5% decrease in their low back pain after 12 weeks of seeing their doctor and taking various pain medications.
Commentary – I’m not surprised by the results of this study looking at possible benefits of yoga for patients with low back pain. Many patients with low back pain tend to have some type of low back or core muscle weakness or difficulty using these muscles properlyp. A well-instructed yoga class that emphasizes core stability can go a long way in not only decreasing a patient’s low back pain, but also cut down on their need for medications as well.
“Our pilot study showed that yoga is well-received in these communities and may be effective for reducing pain and pain medication use,” said Dr. Robert Saper in a news release. Dr. Saper, the lead author of the study, is also an assistant professor of family medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine and director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center.
The study appears in the November issue of the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.