Chronic Neck Pain? Try Yoga

Neck PainIt is well known that yoga may help some patients treat their chronic lower back pain—the combination of gentle stretches and balance exercises can help relieve pressure in your low back and reduce your pain.

In a recent study, researchers in Germany set out to explore whether these principles might hold for the treatment of chronic neck pain. Their study, “Yoga for chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled clinical trial,” looked at the effectiveness of Iyengar yoga for patients with chronic neck pain.

The study was published in The Journal of Pain in November 2012.

How the Study Was Conducted
Data on 77 patients with chronic neck pain was included in the study. Of these participants, 67 were female, and the average age was 47.9 years. The participants were randomly split into 2 groups—some patients were placed into a 9-week Iyengar yoga program (90-minute classes each week), and the remaining patients were prescribed a self-care/exercise regimen.

The patients were examined at the start of the study, after 4 weeks had passed, and after 10 weeks. The researchers were primarily interested in the amount of neck pain that participants experienced while at rest, and whether or not this changed throughout the course of the study. The researchers also collected information about patient’s quality of life, psychological health, functional disability levels, and pain experienced while in motion. 

What the Researchers Found
The study results showed that pain during rest and pain during motion dropped substantially in the yoga group when compared to the group that only engaged in self-care/exercise. Yoga also had a significant effect on patients’ disability levels, their quality of life, and some psychological outcomes.

The researchers conclude that their study results demonstrate that yoga may be an effective treatment for people dealing with chronic neck pain, and that it may also result in improved psychological effects.

Before You Try Yoga for Chronic Neck Pain
If you are suffering from chronic neck pain and would like to try yoga as a treatment option, talk to your medical professional first. He or she can help you determine if yoga (or another alternative treatment) is appropriate for your condition, and provide you with resources to help you practice safely.

Updated on: 08/18/15
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