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Research Commentary

Yoga to Reduce Low Back Pain

A review of

Tekur, R. Nagarathna, S. Chametcha, Alex Hankey, H.R. Nagendra,

A comprehensive yoga programs improves pain, anxiety and depression in chronic low back pain patients more than exercise: An RCT, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 20,Issue 3, 2012, Pages 107-118, ISSN 0965-2299, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2011.12.009.


Reviewed by Dr. Justin Thompson

Yoga to Reduce Low Back Pain

A Summarized Review of the Conclusion

Seven days intensive residential Yoga program reduces pain, anxiety, and depression, and improves spinal mobility in patients with CLBP more effectively than physiotherapy exercises.

This study has shown better improvement in STAI, BDI, NRS and SAR with significant group × time interactions in the Yoga group than the control group. Within groups improvements were significant on all variables in both groups, except STAI in controls.

Quotes from the Article

“Back pain is a common problem affecting around 1 in 5 adults during their lifetime with it’s prevalence rising to 40% when asked if they have experienced symptoms during the previous month. Its prevalence is well studied: worldwide, 37% of CLBP is attributable to occupational ergonomic stressors, both physical and psychosocial. In South East Asia, including India and China, the figure is 39%”

“All patients reported improvements in sleep, sense of well being, and confidence after the program. Neither group reported adverse side effects.”

“It suggests that yoga has the ability to reverse the interlinked downward spiral, whereby CLBP causes depression, which gives rise to further back pain, resulting in increased depression, and so on. This conclusion is corroborated by several studies, in which physical well-being, fatigue, stress (PSS) and anxiety (on STAI) after yoga practice29, have been observed. Telles et al. found reduced physiological arousal and improved autonomic stability. Together, these studies provide strong evidence for yoga’s stress reducing effects, indicating that it can neutralize CLBP’s psychological impact as well as its physical symptoms.”

“A second level of explanation for Yoga’s efficacy in pain reduction may lie in endorphin production at a cortical level, which is known to result from alternate stretch-and-relax procedures of Yoga asana practice”

Introduction to the Research

Integrating yoga as a complementary approach to alleviate back pain offers a holistic path toward healing and resilience. With its blend of gentle stretches, strengthening poses, and mindful breathing techniques, yoga fosters awareness of body alignment, promotes flexibility, and enhances core strength—crucial elements in mitigating and preventing back discomfort. Moreover, the meditative aspect of yoga cultivates mental relaxation, reducing stress and tension often associated with chronic pain. Previously, outpatient Yoga programs for patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) lasting several months have been found to reduce pain, analgesic requirement and disability, and improve spinal mobility. This study evaluated changes in pain, anxiety, depression and spinal mobility for CLBP patients on short-term, residential Yoga and physical exercise programs, including comprehensive yoga lifestyle modifications.

Research Methodology

A seven day randomized control single blind active study in a residential Holistic Health Centre in Bangalore, India, assigned 80 patients (37 female, 43 male) with CLBP to yoga and physical exercise groups. The Yoga program consisted of specific asanas and pranayamas for back pain, meditation, yogic counseling, and lectures on yoga philosophy. The control group program included physical therapy exercises for back pain, and matching counseling and education sessions.

Research Findings

Group × time interactions (p < 0.05) and between group differences (p < 0.05) were significant in all variables. Both groups’ scores on the numerical rating scale for pain reduced significantly, 49% in Yoga (p < 0.001, ES = 1.62), 17.5% in controls (p = 0.005, ES = 0.67). State anxiety (STAI) reduced 20.4% (p < 0.001, ES = 0.72) and trait anxiety 16% (p < 0.001, ES = 1.09) in the yoga group. Depression (BDI) decreased in both groups, 47% in yoga (p < 0.001, ES = 0.96,) and 19.9% in controls (p < 0.001, ES = 0.59). Spinal mobility (‘Sit and Reach’ instrument) improved in both groups, 50%, in yoga (p < 0.001, ES = 2.99) and 34.6% in controls (p < 0.001, ES = 0.81).

Research References

As always with these reviews, these are my takeaways from the article and I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  The references used in this article by the authors of this article are listed here.

Our Message

We love to help our patients in East Dallas stay healthy. We are here to relieve back pain, neck pain and headaches while also teaching about how our diet and stress effects our over all health. By improving these areas of our lives we can become healthier, stay out of pain and reduce risk of diseases. Our Chiropractors located in Lakewood, near the corner of Mockingbird Ln. and Abrams Rd., want to help you stay healthy and out of pain!