How effective are non-pharmacological therapies for lower back pain? Do therapies such as yoga and mind-body interventions really help?
Back Pain – Use Of Mind-Body Therapies
A team of researchers from both Florida Atlantic University’s College for Design and Social Inquiry and Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing conducted a study to review the effects of movement-based mind-body treatments on chronic lower back pain.
Literature available on these movement-based mind-body interventions, such as qigong and tai chi, is quite insufficient. Therefore, yoga, tai chi (a Chinese meditative movement therapy that incorporates gentle physical activity and stretching with mindfulness), and qigong were (a traditional Chinese meditative movement therapy that focuses on body consciousness and concentration during steady, calm, and fluid repetitive body movements) were studied thoroughly.
Comparative analysis was done between meditation, tai chi, and qigong by understanding their frequency, duration, primary and secondary outcomes, attrition rates, and potential consequences, as well as their outcomes. The findings of their study provide scientific support for the effects of yoga, tai chi, and qigong, which have been advised by doctors for patients with back pain.
According to Juyoung Park, they wanted to understand how movement-based mind-body treatments affected chronic back pain, neurological causes, coping mechanisms, and overall quality of life of people with back pain. Goal was to provide a systematic evaluation of the results of these treatments so that we could provide research across fields to help people adopt evidence-based pain-relieving interventions.
After studying 625 peer-reviewed publications, only 32 met the inclusion criteria and were included in the study. The majority of these studies emphasized movement-based mind-body therapies to be successful for treating low back pain, with beneficial effects such as pain relief, psychiatric distress such as depression and anxiety, reduction in pain-related problems, and even increased functional capacity.
Researchers found that a longer term and high-dose yoga intervention decreased back pain in males in their 20s, while tai chi reduced acute lower back pain in males in their 20s. In young males, Tai Chi was even more effective than yoga for lower back pain. In the general population, tai chi reduced pain severity, the bothersome effects of pain, and pain-related weakness more effectively than the control intervention. Since there have only been three qigong trials to date, the researchers were unsure if this intervention could help with chronic lower back pain.
According to Cheryl Krause-Parello, they conducted two experiments that looked at the impact of a movement modality, primarily yoga, on veterans. Many veterans and active duty service members suffer from chronic low back pain, and they are more affected than the general public.
Cheryl Krause-Parello, Ph.D., is a co-author, a lecturer at FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, and the head of Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-P.A.W.W.). She is also a faculty fellow at FAU’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-HEALTH).
This study adds to the growing evidence of movement-based mind-body therapies that can help veterans and those with chronic low back pain.
A total of 3,484 subjects ranging in age from 33 to 73 years old were included in the study, which included both random and nonrandomized trials. The sample sizes for the studies ranged from 25 to 320 people. Yoga received the most posts (25), followed by tai chi (four) and qigong (three). The majority of yoga research was done in India, led by the United States, with additional research conducted in Australia (tai chi) and Germany (qigong).
Those who suffer from chronic low back pain are more likely to experience physical disabilities, job-related impairment, and long-term disability. Furthermore, the cost of drugs such as opioids, operations, hospitalization, outpatient care, and time away from work all contribute to the high economic burden of chronic low back pain.
Yoga, tai chi, and qigong might be useful therapeutic solutions in comparison to pain killers, surgery, or injection-based therapies like nerve blockers, which have a high rate of side effects.
More clinical research and observational data are needed so that physicians can recommend these forms of treatments to their patients with greater trust.