Watch CBS News

New study shows promise of yoga in treating back pain

Yoga for back pain
New study shows promise of yoga in treating back pain 01:54

NEW YORK -- A new study says yoga may be as good a treatment for back pain as physical therapy.

One person who might agree is 74-year-old Judith Zaborowski, who took up yoga more than 10 years ago to help with her aching back.

"I'm much more comfortable with movement," she told CBS News. "Yoga makes me think about my back and how I'm standing and if I'm standing properly, then I can function better."

In the study, 320 adults with moderate to severe back pain received one of three approaches over 12 weeks:

  • Weekly yoga classes
  • 15 physical therapy visits
  • Education about how to cope with back pain
CBS News

Yoga was just as effective as physical therapy -- and both groups were about 20 percent less likely to use pain medication than patients receiving education alone.

Yoga classes started with relaxation exercises, warm up, then gentle yoga poses like wall dog and chair twist.

Dr. Robert Saper CBS News

Dr. Robert Saper at Boston Medical Center is one of the authors. He explained the results.

"Yoga was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain intensity," Saper said. "Perhaps most importantly reducing pain medication use."

Saper says yoga likely works by strengthening core and lower back muscles and helping with mind-body relaxation.

"I feel, the more that one can do for one's self and not depend on medication, the healthier it is for your body," Zaborowski said.

Judith Zaborowski CBS News

Opiate overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults under age 50 -- an especially compelling reason to find approaches to chronic pain that don't involve narcotics.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.