Mind & Body • 4 Feb 2021
3 Common Pain Conditions Improved with Yoga Therapy
By Heidi M. Crocker, EdD, DC, c-IAYT
SSIHI Yoga Therapist
Yoga therapy is an essential component of integrative pain care, which has been found to improve patient outcomes and alter the trajectory of the current public pain crises.
Today, chronic pain affects an estimated 50 million adults in the United States alone, many of whom experience symptoms that interfere with daily life or work activities.  Yoga has been shown to positively affect function, pain, and quality of life for people with various musculoskeletal pain conditions.
What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga therapy is a combination of physical movement, breathing, and meditation. Studies have shown that yoga is therapeutic in the treatment of various chronic pain conditions, especially low back pain., In addition, positive outcomes have been reported for chronic neck pain, cancer patients, and general health and wellbeing.
- Low Back Pain
Studies have shown that yoga improved low-back pain and function in both the short term (1-6 months) and intermediate-term (6-12 months). Studies indicate that yoga can reduce pain and disability, can be practiced safely, and is well received by participants. In 2017, the American College of Physicians included yoga as a recommendation for first-line treatment of chronic low-back pain.
- Chronic Neck Pain
A 2019 systematic review concluded that practicing yoga reduced neck pain intensity and disability, as well as improved range of motion in the neck. Secondary findings showed strong evidence that yoga has a positive impact on quality of life and overall mood. This is encouraging for those patients with high stress-induced neck pain.
- Knee Pain/Osteoarthritis
Recent studies have focused on strength, balance, and flexibility in people with chronic knee pain. Yoga has been shown to improve walking pain/time, range of knee flexion, and crepitus associated with knee function disability. After a 12-week yoga intervention, positive effects on pain reduction and functional improvement were observed on patients with knee osteoarthritis.
General Health and Wellbeing
Research supports practicing yoga is a beneficial therapy for stress management and wellbeing. Studies show that a regular yoga practice correlates with better sleep, improved body awareness, and healthier eating and physical activity habits.  Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it is based on principles of preventative medicine and healthy lifestyle practices.
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