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Yoga, Stretching Classes Outdo Self-Care for Back Pain: Study
Date:10/24/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Yoga instruction and conventional stretching classes are equally good at relieving discomfort from chronic moderate lower-back pain, new research suggests.

Both are also better than trying to manage pain on your own by following the exercise, lifestyle and flare-up advice provided in self-help books, the study found.

"For a person with garden-variety back pain who is willing to move their body, the bottom-line is that a beginner's yoga class geared for back pain or a very intensive stretching exercise program would be equally suitable as a treatment," said study lead author Karen J. Sherman, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and a senior investigator with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

"Now we're not talking about a person with severe back pain who is unable to move their body," Sherman cautioned. "But for the typical back-pain patient both approaches are certainly better than what people usually do, which is take some meds and tough it out. And both seem to afford more clinically meaningful improvements than simply giving a patient a self-care book."

The study is published online Oct. 24 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Patients face a plethora of options for relieving back pain, including medication, massage therapy and chiropractic treatment. But such approaches often come at significant cost, without much assurance of effectiveness, the authors said.

With that in mind, they set out to explore the potential benefit of exercise in various forms.

Between 2007 and 2009, Sherman and her associates focused on 228 chronic low-back pain patients residing in the state of Washington.

Nearly 60 percent of the participants were already using medication (usually nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories) at the time of the study launch.

Patients were divide
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