New study shows promise of yoga in treating back pain

NEW YORK — A new study says yoga may be as good a treatment for back pain as physical therapy.

One person who might agree is 74-year-old Judith Zaborowski, who took up yoga more than 10 years ago to help with her aching back.

“I’m much more comfortable with movement,” she told CBS News. “Yoga makes me think about my back and how I’m standing and if I’m standing properly, then I can function better.”

In the study, 320 adults with moderate to severe back pain received one of three approaches over 12 weeks:

  • Weekly yoga classes
  • 15 physical therapy visits
  • Education about how to cope with back pain
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CBS News

Yoga was just as effective as physical therapy — and both groups were about 20 percent less likely to use pain medication than patients receiving education alone.

Yoga classes started with relaxation exercises, warm up, then gentle yoga poses like wall dog and chair twist.

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CBS News

Dr. Robert Saper at Boston Medical Center is one of the authors. He explained the results.

“Yoga was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain intensity,” Saper said. “Perhaps most importantly reducing pain medication use.”

Saper says yoga likely works by strengthening core and lower back muscles and helping with mind-body relaxation.

“I feel, the more that one can do for one’s self and not depend on medication, the healthier it is for your body,” Zaborowski said.

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CBS News

Opiate overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults under age 50 — an especially compelling reason to find approaches to chronic pain that don’t involve narcotics.

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