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Yoga Beats Usual Care for Pain-Related Back Function

However, back pain and general health scores similar with yoga and usual care intervention

TUESDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain, attending yoga classes is associated with better back function than usual care, according to a study published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Helen E. Tilbrook, from the University of York in the United Kingdom, and colleagues compared the effectiveness of yoga versus usual care in improving back function in 313 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain between 2007 and 2010. Participants were randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to a 12-class, three-month yoga program or usual care. Postal questionnaires were used to assess outcomes, including scores on the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ), pain, pain self-efficacy, and general health at three, six, and 12 months.

The investigators found that 93 yoga group participants (60 percent) attended at least three of the first six classes and at least three more classes. Compared to the usual care participants, yoga group participants had better back function at three, six, and 12 months. The adjusted mean RMDQ score in the yoga group was lower by 2.17, 1.48, and 1.57 points at three, six, and 12 months, respectively. Back pain and general health scores were similar for both groups at three, six, and 12 months, whereas pain self-efficacy scores were higher in the yoga group at three and six months, but not at 12 months. Two of the usual care participants, and 12 yoga group participants reported adverse events, mostly increased pain.

"Yoga seems to be a safe and effective activity that clinicians could consider recommending for patients with a history of low back pain," the authors write.

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