Yoga for Low Back Pain
Low back pain remains a major health problem in the United States. It is a leading cause of Emergency Department visits, timed missed from work, and disability. In individuals younger than 45 years, it is the number one cause of work-related disability. For all ages, it is the second most common cause of temporary disability. It is also one of the leading diagnoses in health care expenditures.
The economic impact of low back and neck pain is huge. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “low back and neck pain” was the 3rdhighest health related spending category for 2013 (behind Diabetes and Ischemic Heart Disease) at $87.6 billion.
Over 80% of individuals develop acute low back pain in their lifetime with about 5% developing chronic low back pain. According to the CDC, each year roughly 12-14% of the adult population will visit their doctor with a complaint of low back pain. Nearly 30% will experience low back pain at some point in any given 3-month time period!
There are certain “red flags,” however, in acute low back pain that should warrant timely evaluation. Among theses are radiating leg pain, motor weakness, bowel or bladder dysfunction, onset associated with trauma, onset after recent “blood infection,” and a history of cancer. Although low back pain may have discrete causes that need immediate surgical interventions, sometimes it becomes a chronic disease.
Successful management of patients with chronic low back pain includes lifestyle modifications. Better nutrition, tobacco cessation, and exercise are all important features of any back pain treatment or prevention program.
As a part of a multidisciplinary approach to the management of chronic low back pain, the Florence Neurosurgery and Spine Center offers supervised yoga classes by a certified instructor. Mind–body exercise therapies such as yoga may be helpful tools in managing patients with chronic, non-specific low back pain.
Yoga is a well known and accepted discipline in many health and fitness programs. Over the last 10 years published studies have suggested that yoga may reduce back pain and improve functional outcomes in some patients. Other studies have suggested that “mindfulness” practices may lead to quantifiable positive changes in brain function as seen on MRI and fMRI scanning.
At the Florence Neurosurgery and Spine Center, we believe that patients with low back pain should be approached holistically. Not every patient needs surgery. Not every patient needs an injection. Not every patient needs an MRI. By providing physician and provider expertise in multiple disciplines, we hope to better serve our patients with low back pain.
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