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Yoga Helps Back Pain Among Veterans

Yoga Helps Back Pain Among Veterans
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By    |   Wednesday, 26 July 2017 11:28 AM

A study of military veterans found that yoga effectively relieves back pain and reduces the use of opioids.

For the study, 150 veterans were randomized, and those who were assigned to the yoga group attended a 12-week yoga program. It consisted of two 60-minute instructor-led yoga sessions per week, with home practice sessions encouraged.

The yoga program was based on hatha yoga, which involves yoga postures and movement sequences, along with regulated breathing and mindfulness meditation. Progress was assessed before the program began, at six weeks, 12 weeks, and six months. Comparison participants were invited to attend the yoga sessions only after six months.

Both study groups had reductions in disability scores after 12 weeks. However, notable differences emerged at the six-month assessment, with scores continuing to drop in the yoga group but increasing in the delayed-treatment group.

In addition, the intensity of pain decreased in the yoga group at all three time periods, while the delayed-treatment group had negligible changes.

There was also a 20 percent drop in opioid pain medication use at 12 weeks in both groups as determined through self-report questionnaires and a review of medical records.

Notably, reductions in disability and pain intensity were found despite the reductions in opioid use and other medical and self-help pain treatments at six months.

"To be able to reduce the reliance upon opioids and other medications with side effects, it is crucial to establish evidence showing mind-body practices like yoga provide benefit in both veterans and non-veterans with chronic pain," said researcher Dr. Erik J. Groessl from the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Other studies conducted with civilian patients have also found that yoga reduces chronic low back pain. Scientists at Seattle's Group Health Research Institute found that eight weekly sessions of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), such as meditation and yoga, relieved pain and improved ease of movement better  than conventional care, such as over-the-counter pain killers.

Even a year later,  subjects in the MBSR group still showed a substantial improvement, with 69 percent reporting  continuing improvement compared to 44 percent in the control group.

The new study, which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrates the effectiveness of yoga specifically in military veterans, a population that faces more health challenges and may be harder to treat than non-VA populations, say the researchers.

Military veterans and active duty military personnel have higher rates of chronic pain than the general population, and the back is the area of the body that is most commonly affected.

In addition to pain, those with the condition also report increased disability, psychological symptoms, and reduced quality of life. In the U.S., chronic low back pain is the leading cause of lost productivity and the second most common cause for physician visits.

A study from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital found that patients  who received relaxation response training, such as yoga, reduced their doctor visits by 42 percent in the year after training when compared to the year before training, and lab use dropped by 44 percent. Researchers believe the relaxation techniques reduce anxiety, and lead to helpful changes in the body including less inflammation and healthier hearts.

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A study of military veterans found that yoga effectively relieves back pain and reduces the use of opioids. For the study, 150 veterans were randomized, and those who were assigned to the yoga group attended a 12-week yoga program. It consisted of two 60-minute...
yoga, chronic, back, pain, veterans, relieves
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2017-28-26
Wednesday, 26 July 2017 11:28 AM
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