RSSYoga for chronic low back pain

Posted on Thu, 20 Jul 17

Yoga for chronic low back pain

Yoga is as effective as physical therapy for chronic low back pain making it an important non-drug treatment option.  

Although physical therapy consisting of stretching and strengthening exercises is the most common non-pharmacologic treatment for non-specific chronic low back pain, there is evidence to suggest yoga could also be effective.  

To determine if yoga is a viable treatment option a study putting the two treatments head to head and comparing their effects was conducted in a large group of people. One group attended or practiced at home 12 weekly yoga sessions, while another had 15 physical therapy session visits or home practice. 

At the end of the study period the yoga program was non-inferior to individually delivered physical therapy for change in back-related function and pain. And in both groups, improvement was maintained at 1-year follow up. 

“These findings suggest that a manualized yoga intervention designed specifically for chronic lower back pain is similarly effective to physical therapy for improving physical function and reducing pain in a diverse underserved population with high levels of impairment,” concluded the investigators. 

“A structured yoga program for patients with chronic low back pain may be a reasonable alternative to physical therapy depending on patient preferences, availability, and cost,” they note.


Saper RB, Lemaster C, Delitto A, et al. Yoga, Physical Therapy, or Education for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Noninferiority Trial. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Jul 18;167(2):85-94. 

Tags: Yoga, Back Pain

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