No Clear Benefit of Yoga for Back Problems

Yoga Turns in So-So Results for Back Problems | Medpage Today –  January 11, 2017 by Ryan Basen

Yoga is one of the alternative medicine pain treatments now recommended by the CDC, though there is little evidence of its benefit over any other kind of exercise.

Most studies compare yoga to no exercise at all so the benefits could be just from getting some exercise, not the specific moves of yoga.

However, the stress placed on joints by this practice can be dangerous for anyone with EDS or another connective tissue disorder. When I was practicing, I further stretched my lax ligaments and frequently subluxated joints.

Doing yoga became so painful I had to stop this “pain treatment”.  

Yoga led to some improvements in back function compared with no exercise at 3 and 6 months, but the evidence for this was low to moderate, according to a Cochrane review.  

The analysis consisted of a dozen randomized control trials from the U.S., India, and the U.K., involving 1,080 yoga practitioners in total (average age of 34-48), explained Susan Wieland, MPH, PhD, of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues.

The authors found that when compared to no exercise, yoga produced some functional benefits after 3-4 months, moderate improvement after 6 months, and some improvement after 1 year.

They also found moderate evidence that yoga increased risk of adverse events by 5%, primarily increased back pain, versus no exercise.

“The evidence for comparisons with non-exercise controls is clearer and the benefits of yoga are larger, while any advantage of yoga over non-yoga exercise is relatively uncertain,” the authors wrote.

“The big problem [with this study] was we did not have enough evidence,” she said, but added that yoga “probably does improve [back] pain slightly, compared with doing nothing.”


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