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Yoga Reduces Symptoms of Chronic Low Back Pain

First-of-its kind study shows yoga is better option than traditional exercise

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Yoga appears to be more effective than traditional exercise at reducing chronic lower back pain, according to a study published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Karen J. Sherman, Ph.D., of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and colleagues randomly assigned 101 adults with chronic low back pain to either a 12-week session of yoga, a 12-week session of conventional therapeutic exercise classes, or a self-care book. After six, 12 and 26 weeks, the patients were assessed for back-related functional status using a modified 24-point Roland Disability Scale, and for bothersomeness of pain, using an 11-point numeric scale.

The researchers found that 69% of participants in the yoga group had a reduction in their Roland score of at least 50%, compared with 50% of participants in the exercise group and 30% in the book group. At 12 weeks, bothersomeness decreased in all treatment groups, but between weeks 12 and 26, bothersomeness continued to improve only in the yoga group.

"Future research evaluating yoga for chronic back pain should investigate its mechanisms of action and whether similar results are seen in more diverse populations and in patients with more severe back pain," the authors conclude.

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