By Sylvia Booth Hubbard | Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 11:39 AM
At some point in their lives, about 80 percent of Americans will suffer from back pain. A recent study found that more than a third of adults say low back pain has affected their ability to sleep, exercise, or perform the tasks of daily living. Treating this pain remains a difficult problem, and the pain is chronic for millions of people.
Now, a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that yoga may ease low back pain.
Yoga began more than 2,000 years ago in India and combines physical movements, controlled breathing, and relaxation or meditation.
“We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function,” said the study’s lead author, L. Susan Wieland, Ph.D. “For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment.”
Wieland and her colleagues reviewed 12 separate studies looking at yoga for low back pain. The trials, which included more than 1,000 participants, compared yoga to a non-exercise intervention, such as educational material given to a patient, or to an exercise intervention such as physical therapy.
At both three and six months, patients using yoga showed improvements in function as well as pain, but non-yoga exercise also improved function and pain.
The study appeared earlier this month in the online journal Cochrane Library.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil) are commonly used to cope with back pain, but a recent study from The George Institute for Global Health found they offer little benefit but can cause side effects.
Researchers analyzed the results of 35 trials and found that only 1 in 6 patients treated with the painkillers found any significant relief.
Last year, a study conducted at the University of North Texas Health Science Center found that osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) reduced pain and improved function in patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
In addition to finding that OMT helped patients recover from chronic low back pain, a second study at UT found that those who had the greatest disability before the trial received the greatest benefits — at least a 50 percent reduction in pain.