People can suffer from many degrees of lower back pain. It can be a temporary problem that can disappear after days or weeks—or it can be a chronic condition lasting for months or even years.

Venues of Treatment

 According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, there are usually three different venues through which a sufferer of back pain can be treated: 1. Educating sufferers on ways to prevent back injury and deal with pain. 2. Drugs, which usually include painkillers, anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxants. 3. Exercise.

What Type Of Exercise Is Best?

When it comes to exercise, health-care providers have not known what types will improve patients’ conditions in the past. In a new study, the effectiveness of yoga, as opposed to traditional exercise, and as opposed to education only, was tested. Yoga combines physical exercise with relaxation techniques and little has been known about its effect on lower back pain.

In the study, 101 patients between the ages of 20 and 64 who had visited a doctor in the past three to 15 months for chronic lower back pain participated. Patients who had major illnesses or conditions that explained the back pain could not participate in the study. Researchers then randomly assigned patients to three different groups. One group received 12 weekly 75¬minute yoga classes specifically for patients with low-back pain and was given instructions to practice daily.

One group received 12 weekly 75-minute sessions of aerobic strengthening and stretching exercises, which had been developed by a physical therapist, and was given instructions to practice daily at home. The third group was given a copy of The Back Pain Help Book, by Jim Moore and colleagues. Patients were given permission to use drugs as needed. Interviewers then called patients after six, 12 and 26 weeks. The interviewers used standard questions and did not know which treatments patients had received.

The interviewers reported that the yoga practitioners had better back function after 12 weeks than either the exercise or education groups. Reports of pain were similar in all groups at 12 weeks. At 26 weeks, yoga practitioners had better back function and less pain. The study found that yoga—over a period of three to six months—seems to be more effective than traditional exercise regimens or education-only tactics.