Yoga can be just as effective as physical therapy for relieving lower back pain, researchers have found.
A study led by Robert Saper, a Boston University School of Medicine associate professor and director of integrative medicine at Boston Medical Center, followed 320 patients with chronic low back pain who were given 12 weeks of either yoga, physical therapy, or educational information, followed by 40 weeks of maintenance visits or home practice.
Follow-up data showed that yoga was not inferior to physical therapy for function and pain.
Yoga and physical therapy participants were 21 and 22 percentage points less likely, respectively, than education participants to use pain medication at 12 weeks.
Improvements in the yoga and physical therapy groups were maintained at one year.
The findings have been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Last year, research in North Wales showed that practising yoga in the workplace can have positive benefits for people with back problems.
With absence from work due to back problems costing British employers more than £3bn every year, the study published in Occupational Medicine found that both employers and employees have something to gain from it.
Yoga programmes consisting of stretching, breathing, and relaxation methods can reduce sickness absence due to back pain and musculoskeletal conditions, the results showed. And ten minutes or more a day of home practice was associated with doubling the reduction in back pain.