Improve Quality of Life with Low Back Pain with Yoga
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Yoga is great for working on flexibility and core stability, correcting posture, and breathing—all of which are necessary for a healthy back.” – Sasha Cyrelson
Low Back Pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects between 6% to 15% of the population. It is estimated, however, that 80% of the population will experience back pain sometime during their lives. There are varied treatments for low back pain including chiropractic care, acupuncture, biofeedback, physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, massage, surgery, opiate pain killing drugs, steroid injections, and muscle relaxant drugs. These therapies are sometimes effective particularly for acute back pain. But, for chronic conditions the treatments are less effective and often require continuing treatment for years and opiate pain killers are dangerous and can lead to abuse, addiction, and fatal overdoses. Obviously, there is a need for safe and effective treatments for low back pain that are low cost and don’t have troublesome side effects.
Pain involves both physical and psychological issues. The stress, fear, and anxiety produced by pain tends to elicit responses that actually amplify the pain. So, reducing the emotional reactions to pain may be helpful in pain management. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve emotion regulation producing more adaptive and less maladaptive responses to emotions. Indeed, mindfulness practices are effective in treating pain and have been shown to be safe and effective in the management of low back pain. Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of health benefits. These include relief of chronic pain. Yoga practice has also been shown to be effective for the relief of chronic low-back 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. So, it makes sense to further explore the effectiveness of yoga practice for chronic low back pain.
In today’s Research News article “A Randomized Trial Comparing Effect of Yoga and Exercises on Quality of Life in among nursing population with Chronic Low Back Pain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6134737/ ), Patil and colleagues recruited nurses who worked in a tertiary care hospital and who also were diagnosed with chronic low back pain. They were randomly assigned to either participate in yoga or physical exercise. In the yoga condition, the participants practiced a 1-hour Integrated Approach to Yoga Therapy module 5 times per week for 6 weeks. The physical exercise group practiced on the same schedule and performed stretching and gym exercises such as leg lifts, curls, and pull ups. Participants were measured before and after training with the “World Health Organization Quality of Life-brief questionnaire. . . The scale provides a measure of an individual’s perception of QOL on four domains: (1) physical health (seven items), (2) psychological health (six items), (3) social relationships (three items), and (4) environmental health” (Patil et al., 2018).
They found that both groups of nurses showed significant improvements after training in physical and psychological health and social relationships. But, the yoga group had significantly greater improvements in all three quality of life dimensions.
The fact that yoga was compared to a comparable exercise is a strength of this research project. The results are potentially important and suggest that yoga practice is superior to other exercise in improving the quality of life of nursing professionals with chronic low back pain. This may be of great importance in allowing the nurses to better perform their duties and also to prevent turnover and burnout that are prevalent with nurses.
So, improve quality of life with low back pain with yoga.
“Achy back? Give yoga a go. Numerous studies have shown the power of the ancient practice, which emphasizes stretching, strength, and flexibility, to relieve back soreness and improve function. . . yoga may even help reduce the need for pain medication.” – Annie Hauser
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Patil, N. J., Nagaratna, R., Tekur, P., Manohar, P., Bhargav, H., & Patil, D. (2018). A Randomized Trial Comparing Effect of Yoga and Exercises on Quality of Life in among nursing population with Chronic Low Back Pain. International Journal of Yoga, 11(3), 208–214. http://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_2_18
Chronic low back pain (CLBP) adversely affects quality of life (QOL) in nursing professionals. Integrated yoga has a positive impact on CLBP. Studies assessing the effects of yoga on CLBP in nursing population are lacking. Aim: This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of integrated yoga and physical exercises on QOL in nurses with CLBP.
A total of 88 women nurses from a tertiary care hospital of South India were randomized into yoga group (n = 44; age – 31.45 ± 3.47 years) and physical exercise group (n = 44; age – 32.75 ± 3.71 years). Yoga group was intervened with integrated yoga therapy module practices, 1 h/day and 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Physical exercise group practiced a set of physical exercises for the same duration. All participants were assessed at baseline and after 6 weeks with the World Health Organization Quality of Life-brief (WHOQOL-BREF) questionnaire.
Data were analyzed by Paired-samples t-test and Independent-samples t-test for within- and between-group comparisons, respectively, using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Within-group analysis for QOL revealed a significant improvement in physical, psychological, and social domains (except environmental domain) in both groups. Between-group analysis showed a higher percentage of improvement in yoga as compared to exercise group except environmental domain.
Integrated yoga was showed improvements in physical, psychological, and social health domains of QOL better than physical exercises among nursing professionals with CLBP. There is a need to incorporate yoga as lifestyle intervention for nursing professionals.