A recent study in the Journal of Pain (1) has found that yoga may be an effective treatment method for chronic neck pain. Additionally, results demonstrate that yoga has additional beneficial effects on pschological well being, and quality of lift.
The study analyzed the effects of Iyengar yoga, a form of Hatha yoga which emphasizes precision in it’s 200 poses as well as breath pattern. The study randomized seventy seven chonic neck pain patients into one of two groups: the yoga group and a self care/home exercise program. Both groups received baseline scores based on their report of pain on a 100 pt scale (100 being the greatest amount of pain), as well as a Quality of Life and psycholoical outcome measure. Members of the yoga group underwent a 9-week Iyengar yoga program with weekly 90 minute classes, while the self care group managed their own exercises at home.
The patient’s pain, quality of life, and psycholical scores were measured at 4, and 10 weeks, with 10 week measures demonstrating that the average pain score was reduced from 44.3 to 13.0 in the yoga group,while the self care group reduced from 41.9 to 34.4.
Thus, in lieu of pain killers and perhaps other modes of treatment for long term neck pain, it seems that yoga may be a (cheap!) and valuable tool. My conjecture is that the emphasis on mobility of the spine, postural alignment, and strengthening of the core in this form of yoga are components of the relief from chronic neck pain. Interesting!
(1) Michalsen A, Traitteur H, Ludtke R, et.al. Yoga for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Pain. 2012. 13(11):1122-1130.
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