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Yoga could have health benefits for people with chronic lower back pain

Practising yoga can reduce pain and increase functional ability in people with chronic, non-specific lower back pain, suggest the results of a Cochrane Review. 

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Cochrane researchers looked at 12 randomised trials involving 1,080 men and women with an average age between 34 and 48 years, all of whom had chronic, non-specific lower back pain. 

The trials, which were carried out in India, the UK and the US, compared yoga with no exercise; yoga with back-focused exercise; and yoga with no exercise or a self-care book. All yoga interventions were specifically designed for the treatment of lower back pain. 

The researchers found that compared with no exercise, practising yoga might improve back-related function and reduce symptoms of lower back pain by a small amount in the first six to 12 months. 

But they cautioned that the quality of the available evidence was low to moderate and that larger and more robust studies with longer follow-up times are needed to draw any firm conclusions about the long-term health effects of yoga. 

Wieland LS et al (2017) Yoga treatment for chronic non-specific low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013. doi: 10.1002/14651858. CD010671.

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