Up to your Neck in Pain – Try Yoga


For many people, managing pain involves using prescription medicine in combination with complementary techniques like physical therapy, acupuncture, yoga and massage. I appreciate this because I truly believe medical care should address the person as a whole – their mind, body, and spirit. – Naomi Judd


We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully mild and short lived. But, for many, pain is a constant in their lives. The most common forms of chronic pain are back and neck pain. Indeed, back pain is the number one cause of disability worldwide. In addition, neck pain is the number three cause of chronic pain; affecting more than a quarter of Americans. People who experience chronic back and neck pain are limited in their daily activities and may compensate in order to walk, run, sit, etc. and the compensatory postures can produce further sometimes different problems.


There are a myriad of causes for chronic back and neck pain, including something as simple as improper positioning while sleeping, or even sitting or standing with bad posture. It can also occur due to injuries, accidents, heavy lifting or other spinal issues. These types of pain are not only a problem for the individual but are also costly for society as they constitute the largest category of medical insurance claims.


Just as there are many different causes there are also a plethora of treatments for back and neck pain. The most common is the use of drugs, including over –the-counter pain relievers and at times opiates. These are helpful but have limited effectiveness. Sometimes the pain can lead to surgical interventions that can be costly and are not always effective. So, alternative treatments such as acupuncture have also been used with some success. Yoga is another promising alternative treatment for back and neck pain. Many forms of yoga focus on the proper alignment of the spine, which could directly address the source of back and neck pain for many individuals.


We’ve seen in previous posts that yoga can be effective for the relief of chronic low-back pain

http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/11/23/treat-back-pain-with-yoga/. Indeed, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which includes yoga practice is effective for low back pain (see http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/index.php/2015/10/17/control-low-back-pain-with-mindfulness/).In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Iyengar yoga in treating spinal (back and neck) pain: A systematic review”



Crow and colleagues review the published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the application of yoga for the relief of back and neck pain. They found that yoga produced clinically significant improvements in pain intensity. There was clear and strong evidence for effectiveness on the short term. Only three trials had long-term follow-up but were supportive that yoga has sustained effectiveness.


Yoga has many positive benefits for the physical and psychological well-being of the individual and can even provide spiritual benefits. It is generally safe when taught by well-trained yoga instructors, but can still have some adverse effects and practice needs to be tempered with moderation and caution. The present review, hiowever, provides strong support for its use in treating chronic back and neck pain.


So, practice yoga and relieve chronic back and neck pain


“The practices of Yoga equip us with tools for transcending this suffering – and for transcending our moments of happiness, too. Even moments of elation, contentment, and joy carry the future pain of their termination, after all.”  – Sharon Gannon & David Life


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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