A new study says yoga may work as well or better than physical therapy for chronic lower back pain.
Adults with an average age of 46 with severe to moderate lower chronic back pain were studied. Of the 320 study subjects, almost two-thirds of them took pain medication. According to the article in The Washington Post, "all were randomly assigned to participate in 12 weeks of physical therapy (15 one-hour sessions plus home exercises) or 12 weeks of yoga (a dozen 75-minute classes plus home practice) or were given a self-help book and periodic newsletters on back pain plus phone check-ins. After the initial 12 weeks, the yoga and physical therapy groups had occasional sessions and did exercises or practiced at home for nine months; the others continued to get support by phone. By the end of the study, the physical therapy and yoga groups, on average, showed more improvement in pain levels and in ability to function than did the others, and they were more likely to have stopped taking pain medicine. The results were essentially the same for people who had practiced yoga and those who had gotten physical therapy."