Yoga may help people with lower back pain suggests review of the evidence

yoga, back pain, evidence, arthritis digest, arthritis information, arthritis magazinePeople with chronic non-specific lower back pain who do yoga may enjoy less pain and improved function compared with those who do no exercise, says a review published in the Cochrane Library.

Experts looked at 12 trials involving 1,080 people who had chronic non-specific lower back pain. All yoga programmes used were designed specifically for treatment of lower back pain, and were provided by experienced and qualified teachers.

Analysis of the data suggested that yoga might improve back-related function and reduce symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount in the first six to twelve months. But the effect was consistently less than that judged to be clinically important. Larger studies with longer follow-up are needed to draw any firm conclusions about the long-term health effects of yoga.

Not all good news

Yoga may actually cause an increase in back pain in some people. About 5% more yoga participants experienced increased back pain, although this could be similar to the risk of having side effects from other back-focused exercise.


“Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to reducing the symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount, but the results have come from studies with a short follow up,” highlights lead author,

Susan Wieland. “At the moment we only have low to moderate quality evidence for the effects of yoga before six months as a type of exercise for helping people with chronic lower back pain. The yoga exercises practised in the studies were developed for low back pain and people should also remember that in each of the studies we reviewed, the yoga classes were led by experienced practitioners. The findings of this Cochrane Review will help people make more informed choices about their future treatment options.”

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