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Comparing once- versus twice-weekly yoga classes for chronic low back pain in predominantly low income minorities: a randomized dosing trial

Research paper by Robert B. Saper, Ama R. Boah, Julia Keosaian, Christian Cerrada, Janice Weinberg, Karen J. Sherman. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Published June 26, 2013. Accessed February 20, 2015. doi: 10.1155/2013/658030


 

In this 12-week, randomized, parallel-group, dosing trial of 95 adults with nonspecified chronic low-back pain (LBP), researchers concluded that once-weekly and twice-weekly Hatha yoga classes were equally effective in reducing pain and improving back-related function. This study was conducted using mostly non-white participants with low incomes, the investigators explained, because previous studies of yoga for LBP typically included white subjects with high incomes.

Study participants were randomized into either the once-weekly or twice-weekly yoga intervention group. Except for the addition of the second weekly class in the latter group, the programs were identical. Yoga classes were 75 minutes long and included yoga philosophy, meditation, pranayama, warm-ups, asana (including forward bends, back bends, and twists), and deep relaxation. Instructors modified poses as needed with either props or using the support of chairs or walls.

Participants were encouraged to practice yoga for 30 minutes daily at home on non-class days, and were provided with an audio CD, handbook, and props. Participants could continue their regular ongoing LBP treatments, including medications. They were discouraged, however, from starting new treatments.

Data showed that participants in both study groups experienced statistically significant decreases in pain and improvements in back-related function.

Of the 95 participants, 52 (32 in the once-weekly group, 20 in the twice-weekly group) completed the 12-week program. (Home practice adherence rates in both groups were similar, averaging 4 days a week.) Data showed that participants in both study groups experienced statistically significant decreases in pain and improvements in back-related function. Additionally, use of pain medication had decreased in both the once- (27%) and twice-weekly (35%) groups by 6 weeks. Adverse events (the most common being musculoskeletal pain) were reported, but most were self-limited, not serious, and not definitely related to the yoga intervention.

In their conclusions, the investigators recommended that yoga programs for treating chronic LBP be implemented in community and healthcare settings to help serve the needs of low-income patients, who often have limited access to both medical and complementary LBP treatments.



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