A recent study of treatment options for lower back pain reports on the results of 320 participants in the Boston area: participants were treated with physical therapy, yoga, or education. The study concludes that the participants in the yoga and physical therapy options had similar amounts of improvement in both pain and functioning over time.
Specifically, participants who completed the physical therapy and yoga options reduced their use of pain medication substantially:
When the study began, about 70 percent of the patients were taking some form of pain medication. At the end of three months, when the yoga classes were wrapping up, the percentage of yoga and PT participants still taking pain medication had dropped to about 50 percent. By comparison, the use of pain medication did not decline among participants in the education group.
See this story from NPR’s Morning Edition for more information and links to several helpful resources, including the detailed manuals distributed both to the participants in and the teachers of the yoga option. The participant manual provides instructions for accessible home practices that follows the protocol in the study.