Once a week as good as twice

Lower-back pain relief by attending yoga classes was same whether classes attended once a week or twice a week

Main with pain in the lower backPeople in the low-income minority social strata attending a yoga class once a week had similar benefits for lower-back pain relief as those attending the class twice.

That's the conclusion of a study, published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, led by first author Robert Saper, MD, MPH, associate professor of family medicine at BUSM and director of integrative medicine at BMC.

"Lower income patients often have worse lower back pain due to limited access to both mainstream health care treatments and complementary treatments such as yoga, massage and acupuncture," said Saper.

In this randomized trial that lasted 12 weeks, 95 predominantly low-income adults with moderate to severe lower-back pain were divided into two groups.  One group attended yoga classes for one week where as the other group attended twice a week. After the 12 weeks, both groups of participants were seen to have similar and substantial decreases in their pain level and requirements of pain medications. Also, attending the class twice a week provided no additional benefit over attending the class once a week.

"Given the similar improvement seen in once weekly yoga classes, and that once a week is more convenient and less expensive, we recommend patients suffering from lower back pain who want to pursue yoga attend a weekly therapeutic yoga class," said Saper.

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