However, roughly half the participants were also offered a three-month, 12-session yoga course led by experienced teachers.
No more than 15 students were enrolled in any one class, which were based on the "asana" and "pranayama" forms of yoga, and included a range of relaxation and mental focus techniques.
The result: disability and pain questionnaires completed at the end of the yoga program, as well as three and six months thereafter, revealed that those who had taken yoga classes reported better back function at every juncture, compared with the non-yoga group.
The biggest boost in back function among the yoga group was observed immediately following the conclusion of classes.
Back pain and general health, however, was no better among the yoga group than the non-yoga group, the team observed. That said, yoga participants expressed a greater confidence than those in the non-yoga group in their ability to perform normal activities both at the conclusion of yoga classes and three months after.
Tilbrook's team concluded that yoga appeared to offer back pain patients a better shot at improving back function than the usual course of back pain treatment.
Karen Sherman, the lead author of the back pain study published last week, believes the two new studies provide "better evidence that yoga is worth trying for patients with non-specific low back pain."
"Persons with 'non-specific' chronic low back pain don't have a lot of conventional medical options that have been shown to be helpful," noted Sherman, who is associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the University of Washington, Seattle. "So, they commonly turn to various alternative therapies for relief," she explained.
"Prior to the publication of our recent study and the U.K. trial, there were less than 10 smallish studie
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