FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 -- For people experiencing low back pain, the thought of exercise often seems daunting. But yoga may be a natural fit in the quest to relieve an aching back, a new review indicates.
The findings come from an analysis of 12 studies that included more than 1,000 participants with lower back pain. The studies compared yoga to physical therapy or patient education.
There was some evidence that yoga led to small improvements in pain, and small to moderate improvements in back function at three and six months.
"We found that the practice of yoga was linked to pain relief and improvement in function," said review author L. Susan Wieland. She is an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland.
"For some patients suffering from chronic non-specific low back pain, yoga may be worth considering as a form of treatment," Wieland added in a university news release.
About 80 percent of Americans will have back pain at some point in their lives, but treatment can be a challenge. For millions of people, chronic back pain affects their sleep, and their ability to do daily tasks and exercise.
Yoga has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years. It typically involves a combination of physical movements, controlled breathing, and relaxation or meditation.
The review was published online recently in the journal Cochrane Library.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on yoga.
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