Can Yoga and Meditation Help With Back Pain?

Acute low back pain is one of the most common reasons for visits to the family doctors with 50% of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms every year, and the country spends around 50 billion US dollars annually to treat back pain. Acute lower-back pain is defined as 6 – 12 weeks of back pain which may also include sciatica issues. The first occurrence of back pain usually occurs between 20 and 40 years of age. It can be due to a variety of causes. Common treatment for back pain includes:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Physical therapy

Yoga exercises for back pain

Yoga and meditation are known to help relieve both acute and chronic back pain. Yoga therapy includes the physical poses, controlled breathing, and meditation. Standard yoga asanas to reduce back pain include:

  • Bharadvajasana
  • Dhanurasana
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana
  • Extended Triangle Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Dolphin Pose
  • Downward-Facing Dog
  • Cow Pose
  • Cat Pose
  • Eagle Pose

Yoga research studies

A recent Complementary and Alternative Medicine research from Wieland et al assessed the effects of yoga for treating chronic non-specific low back pain. The styles of yoga included Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga yoga.  The researchers concluded that yoga compared to non-exercise controls showed small to moderate improvements in back-related function at three and six months. Many Complementary and Alternative Medicine research studies have supported this viewpoint. For example, a 2015 study by Aboagye published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine concluded, “Six weeks of uninterrupted medical yoga therapy is a cost-effective early intervention for non-specific low back pain, when treatment recommendations are adhered to.’

Meditation

Yoga and meditation can help with back pain either together or independently. There are many forms of meditation and it has been clinically proven that mindfulness meditation can help relieve chronic pain by activating the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex in the brain which is associated with the self-control of pain.

The traditional yoga and meditation asana is the lotus position or padmasana. Padamasana help opens up the heart chakra, calms the breath and balances the prana. This position can also passively stretch the back muscles so the body learns to hold itself in this upright yet relaxed position. This asana thus has dual effects, i.e. acts upon the body and the mind simultaneously.

Integrative Approach

Complementary and Alternative Medicine research studies provide encouraging evidence that yoga and meditation can help relieve back pain yet many of the researchers suggest that more research studies are required to prove the efficacy of yoga in the treatment of back pain.

So why is this?

The reason is that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that is embraced in the standard conventional healthcare model is an out-dated concept. Every individual is different and therefore, each person requires a tailored treatment; this is the core practice of integrative medicine. The integrative medicine practitioner will often recommend yoga and meditation for back pain treatment but not for every individual due to the complexity of aetiology and symptoms of back pain. Consequently, yoga, meditation, pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, physiotherapy, Ayurveda, herbal oils/cream, tissue salts, homeopathy, lifeline technique and other therapies can be selected from the suite of treatments in the integrative medicine model.

As you read through this article, you will realise the importance of using a personalised approach to healthcare and how this approach can also be extended to yoga therapy by applying specific asanas for individuals due to the variation in the causative factors and symptoms of health conditions such as back pain. Thus, targeting the precise issue and applying the strategic treatment methodology will yield significant and improved therapeutic outcomes. If you suffer from back pain or a yoga instructor, and you require assistance in the realm then, please contact Apple A Day RX.