Chronic low back pain, or CLBP, affects millions of people in the world, and unfortunately, this rate only seems to be increasing more and more each year.
It is not only associated with pains of all sorts, but also with psychological symptoms, increased disability, and a reduced quality of life. There are different kinds of options for treatment for CLBP, but it’s hard to pin down the one that is the most effective. Over the past ten years, yoga has been looked to as a form of treatment for chronic low back pain. As we have learned in class, the word “yoga” translates to “joining together”, exemplified by joining one’s mind, their body and their true spirit. Specialists have looked to practices of yoga because of it’s different areas of focus like postural positioning, breathing, concentration and meditation. The popularity of yoga has grown vast in the past several years.
In data conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they show an increased usage for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments (Barnes). Within this study they found that in 2007, yoga was the 7th most commonly used CAM therapy. CAM therapies are mostly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions like back pain, and less severe neck pain. In a small randomized trial conducted by the Program of Physical Therapy in the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, it demonstrated a line of trends for the yoga group under study in terms of improved flexibility and balance, and a decrease in disability and depression (Galantino). In another study conducted by the same source, a different set of CLBP participants attending yoga classes had had less pain and lower functional disability. As stated before yoga is not only focused on the physical movement that we do but as well as the mental aspect of it. Many of the practitioners in the medical field like to conclude that the health benefits from yoga are mainly due to the efforts of physically stretching and strengthening the body, and not due to yoga’s mental aspect (Chang). In my opinion, while I would agree that the greatest results can be achieved by the physical aspect, I believe that the mental portion of yoga still plays a big role.
I believe that strengthening your mind is just as important as strengthening your body and in doing so, the health effects on your body vary. I know that personally having to deal with CLBP has frequently put me in the position where it is difficult to carry on throughout the day because of the pain. Many times, this can affect my mood and how I feel about myself. I can see how this also takes a toll on those around me.
It is because of this that I have found yoga to be a new, good way to relax my mind, relieve stress and meditate myself to a better state of mind. If it were not for yoga, I feel that at the peak of my back pain, I would have even more trouble just dealing with things and situations on a day by day basis. Being someone who does not have access to routine doctor’s appointments or checkups, yoga is my current only form of treatment for my backpain.
This is the same case for many other people. In another study, it was found that within a community of low income, racially diverse and impaired participants who suffered from CLBP, upon giving access to yoga classes, about 72% of the participants felt a two times greater reduction in pain, and had a reduced pain medication usage (Chang). All in all, it is clear that yoga can have significant health benefits not only on your overall health but can produce significant reductions in lower back pain, the use of medications to relieve such pain, and can aid in an overall healthier state of mind. I know that after having practiced yoga for these past few months, I have noticed a change in my lower back pain as well as my flexibility. I strongly believe that for those who cannot attain access to other forms of relief for their back pain, yoga is an alternative that should be highly considered.