Is yoga beneficial for back pain?

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A Cochrane review finds positives and negatives with yoga in patients with non-specific lower back pain.

A new Cochrane Review has found some evidence that yoga may have benefits for patients with non-specific lower back pain, but cautions that it may increase back pain in some people.

The authors examined 12 trials with 1,080 participants: seven studies were carried out in the USA, three in India, and two studies in the UK. They found that, compared to no exercise, yoga was probably better in improving back function, but the evidence was determined to be of low certainty. There was very-low- to moderate-certainty evidence for an improvement in pain at three, six, and 12 months, but the effects were not clinically important.

The authors cautioned that yoga may cause an increase in back pain in some people. There was moderate-certainty evidence that the risk of harm was higher in yoga than in non-exercise, and low-certainty that the risk of harm was similar between yoga and back-focused exercise.

The researchers said more studies are needed to provide information on the long-term effects.

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