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The effectiveness of yoga as a therapeutic intervention for chronic pain conditions

1 May 2006


Overall Clinical Bottom Line: From the research reviewed in this CAT, a yoga program based on the protocols of Sherman et al. (2005) and Williams et al. (2005) has been validated as an effective treatment for chronic low back pain applicable to outpatient physical therapy. These authors used high quality research methods and demonstrated statistically and clinically significant reductions in the disabling effects of chronic pain with the use of yoga as a treatment. The additional eight studies reviewed were of lower quality and require improvement in design to further analyze the effects of yoga on the multidimensional nature of the chronic pain experience. Additional research is warranted to determine effective and comprehensive yoga programs focusing on functional outcomes to improve quality of life for people coping with chronic non-malignant pain.

Clinical Scenario: With the recent growth in the popularity of holistic medicine and lifestyle practices, patient inquiries on the therapeutic benefits of yoga are more common in clinical settings. Patients with chronic non-malignant pain syndromes often present to outpatient orthopedic clinics. We wanted to conduct a thorough literature review to determine if yoga is a beneficial intervention for types of chronic pain treated with physical therapy, and which chronic non-malignant pain conditions are indicated for the practice of yoga.

Clinically Answerable Question: Population – Patients presenting to an outpatient orthopedic physical therapy practice with complaints of non-malignant chronic pain Intervention – Therapeutic yoga program with home practice Comparison – Clinically administered therapeutic exercise program specific to the patient’s condition Outcome – A decrease in pain and pain related disability assessed by a valid and reliable assessment tool


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