Yoga effectively reduces chronic low back pain

Yoga could be more effective than standard treatment in reducing chronic low back pain in minority population, reveals a new study.

People suffering from chronic low back pain (CLBP) can try to gain some relief from complementary therapies such as yoga, confirm researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center.

For their study, the researchers involved adults with CLBP from two community health centers that serve racially diverse, low-income neighbourhoods of Boston.

They were randomly assigned to a standardized 12 week series of Hatha Yoga classes, and 75-minute classes with postures, breathing techniques and meditation, or standard treatment including doctors visits and medications. Even home practice was recommended for 30 minutes daily for the yoga group.

The participants had to report average pain intensity for the previous week as part of the trial, and about the limitations of their day to day activities due to back pain, and the amount of medication taken.

Pain scores for the yoga participants decreased by one-third, while the use of pain medicines decreased by 80 percent, compared to the control group, which decreased by only 5 percent. However, the use of pain medication in control group did not change. The improvement in function was also greater for yoga participants.

Low back pain is a common condition and has resulted in considerable disability and cost to society. People from low-income and minority backgrounds who are suffering from CLBP could be more affected due to lack of access to treatment.

“Yoga is well-received in these communities and could be effective in reducing pain and use of pain medication,” concluded Lead Author of the study, Robert B. Saper, MD MPH, Assistant Professor of family medicine at BUSM and Director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center.