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Yoga a Possible Treatment for Back Pain

Update Date: Aug 16, 2012 11:08 AM EDT

Nearly everyone suffer from low back pain, which most often between ages 30 and 50, because aging and sedentary life styles with too little exercise. 

Treating lower back pain can be very costly and now, UK researchers have suggested that yoga could be a possible treatment for lower back pain. 

The researchers developed a 12-week group yoga program to treat low back pain and compared it to just getting care from a general practitioner. 

They concluded that 12 weekly group classes of specialized yoga are likely to provide a cost-effective intervention for the treatment of patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain.

The 12 week program was designed by Alison Trewhela, an Iyengar Yoga teacher and she said GPs and commissioners are showing great interest in this yoga program. 

"Many consider it could be the primary treatment option because it offers long-term positive outcomes, as well as a multi-disciplinary combination of taught skills that suits the bio-psycho-social nature of the condition of chronic low back pain," Trewhela said. 

The 12-week trial involved two groups of people who were identified as having chronic or recurrent back pain. A group of 156 people were offered group yoga classes specially designed to improve back function, while a second control group of 157 people received GP care alone.

Researchers found that those taking part in the yoga program had far fewer days off work than those in the control group. On average, a control group participant reported 12 days off due to back pain, whereas those in the yoga group had four days off.

The results are published in the journal Spine. 

Chief Investigator David Torgerson said a while back pain comes with the associated health care costs, it is also a major cause of work absenteeism which leads to a productivity loss to society. 

About 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time and 50 percent of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor's office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain and experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.

Researchers say yoga is another option for people who are struggling to manage their back pain, and one that encourages the move to self-management.  They also said that  yoga is an intervention that has been proven to make their everyday lives easier and their pain more manageable.

The researchers say that the yoga boosts confidence because of its gradually-progressing environment. 

"Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course addresses joint mobility, muscle-strengthening, emphasis on the breath, mental attitude to pain and perspective on life lessons, postural awareness and low back education, relaxation techniques, and advice about other potentially health-giving techniques and benefits," Trewhela said. 

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