Yoga vs stretching for low back pain

Chronic low back pain is a common problem lacking effective treatment options.

Researchers in Oregon and Washington compared yoga and conventional stretching exercises for patients with chronic low back pain.

First, the details.

  • 228 adults with chronic low back pain were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 12 weeks.
    • Weekly yoga classes
    • Conventional stretching exercises
    • Self-care book
  • Back-related functional status (modified Roland Disability Questionnaire, a 23-point scale) and bothersomeness of pain (an 11-point numerical scale) were recorded at 12 weeks.
  • Outcomes were assessed at the start and at 6, 12, and 26 weeks by interviewers unaware of treatment group.

The bottom line?

  • 12-weeks
    • Outcomes for the yoga group were significantly better vs to the self-care group, for function and difference in symptoms.
  • 26 weeks
    • Function for the yoga group remained significantly better.
  • Yoga was not superior to conventional stretching exercises at any time point.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Yoga classes were more effective than a self-care book, but not more effective than stretching classes, in improving function and reducing symptoms due to chronic low back pain, with benefits lasting at least several months”

Prof. Ernst and colleagues have reviewed the evidence and concluded, “Yoga has the potential to alleviate low back pain.”

10/25/11 20:45 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.