Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain

The Curse of Lemonlulu

Posted Jul 01, 2017

We know that the thought leaders who think about chronic low back pain suggest that exercise therapy may be beneficial. But really, how many of us follow through with the exercise plan?  Yoga is a mind-body exercise, used by some for chronic low back pain.

Its popularity may result in more patient compliance.

However, maybe before you go on that shopping spree at Lululemon, you sit down and figure out whether yoga really will take care of that pain.  A Cochrane review recently attempted to do just that.

The researchers reviewed randomized controlled trials of yoga treatment in those individuals with chronic low back pain.  These included studies comparing yoga to any other intervention or to no intervention.  Also included were studies comparing yoga as an adjunct to other therapies, versus those other therapies alone.

The conclusion?

There is low- to moderate-certainty evidence that yoga compared to non-exercise controls results in small to moderate improvements in function as it relates to the back at time points three and six months. Pain relief was not so obliging: Yoga may be slightly more effective for pain at three and six months, but the effect size was small.  In other words, other forms of exercise for back-related function or pain may be just as good.

And perhaps much less expensive to participate in.

While yoga is associated with more adverse events than non-exercise controls, it may have the same risk of adverse events as other back-focused exercise. Yoga is not associated with serious adverse events.

More research is needed to improve confidence in these estimates of effect, to evaluate the benefit of chronic yoga treatment for chronic back pain, and to provide additional information on comparisons between yoga and other exercise for chronic low back pain.

Now, when did you hear that rumor about the next clearance sale at Lemonlulu?


Wieland LS, Skoetz N, Pilkington K, Vempati R, D'Adamo CR, Berman BM. Yoga treatment for chronic non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD010671. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010671.pub2.

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