Yoga for chronic low back pain in a predominantly minority population: a pilot randomized controlled trial

Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts, USA.
Alternative therapies in health and medicine (Impact Factor: 1.24). 11/2008; 15(6):18-27.
Source: PubMed


Several studies suggest yoga may be effective for chronic low back pain; however, trials targeting minorities have not been conducted. PRIMARY STUDY OBJECTIVES: Assess the feasibility of studying yoga in a predominantly minority population with chronic low back pain. Collect preliminary data to plan a larger powered study.
Pilot randomized controlled trial.
Two community health centers in a racially diverse neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts.
Thirty English-speaking adults (mean age 44 years, 83% female, 83% racial/ethnic minorities; 48% with incomes < or = $30,000) with moderate-to-severe chronic low back pain.
Standardized series of weekly hatha yoga classes for 12 weeks compared to a waitlist usual care control.
Feasibility measured by time to complete enrollment, proportion of racial/ethnic minorities enrolled, retention rates, and adverse events. Primary efficacy outcomes were changes from baseline to 12 weeks in pain score (0=no pain to 10=worst possible pain) and back-related function using the modified Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire (0-23 point scale, higher scores reflect poorer function). Secondary efficacy outcomes were analgesic use, global improvement, and quality of life (SF-36).
Recruitment took 2 months. Retention rates were 97% at 12 weeks and 77% at 26 weeks. Mean pain scores for yoga decreased from baseline to 12 weeks (6.7 to 4.4) compared to usual care, which decreased from 7.5 to 7.1 (P=.02). Mean Roland scores for yoga decreased from 14.5 to 8.2 compared to usual care, which decreased from 16.1 to 12.5 (P=.28). At 12 weeks, yoga compared to usual care participants reported less analgesic use (13% vs 73%, P=.003), less opiate use (0% vs 33%, P=.04), and greater overall improvement (73% vs 27%, P=.03). There were no differences in SF-36 scores and no serious adverse events.
A yoga study intervention in a predominantly minority population with chronic low back pain was moderately feasible and may be more effective than usual care for reducing pain and pain medication use.

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Available from: Russell S Phillips, Oct 06, 2015
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    • "Many cLBP patients have longstanding pain. For example, 80% of patients in our previous studies of predominantly low-income minorities with cLBP had back pain lasting more than one year; 21% reported back pain for more than nine years [26,28]. However, few non-pharmacologic intervention studies for cLBP have included ongoing structured maintenance components beyond an initial 8–16-week intervention period. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic low back pain causes substantial morbidity and cost to society while disproportionately impacting low-income and minority adults. Several randomized controlled trials show yoga is an effective treatment. However, the comparative effectiveness of yoga and physical therapy, a common mainstream treatment for chronic low back pain, is unknown. This is a randomized controlled trial for 320 predominantly low-income minority adults with chronic low back pain, comparing yoga, physical therapy, and education. Inclusion criteria are adults 18-64 years old with non-specific low back pain lasting >=12 weeks and a self-reported average pain intensity of >=4 on a 0-10 scale. Recruitment takes place at Boston Medical Center, an urban academic safety-net hospital and seven federally qualified community health centers located in diverse neighborhoods. The 52-week study has an initial 12-week Treatment Phase where participants are randomized in a 2:2:1 ratio into i) a standardized weekly hatha yoga class supplemented by home practice; ii) a standardized evidence-based exercise therapy protocol adapted from the Treatment Based Classification method, individually delivered by a physical therapist and supplemented by home practice; and iii) education delivered through a self-care book. Co-primary outcome measures are 12-week pain intensity measured on an 11-point numerical rating scale and back-specific function measured using the modified Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire. In the subsequent 40-week Maintenance Phase, yoga participants are re-randomized in a 1:1 ratio to either structured maintenance yoga classes or home practice only. Physical therapy participants are similarly re-randomized to either five booster sessions or home practice only. Education participants continue to follow recommendations of educational materials. We will also assess cost effectiveness from the perspectives of the individual, insurers, and society using claims databases, electronic medical records, self-report cost data, and study records. Qualitative data from interviews will add subjective detail to complement quantitative data.Trial registration: This trial is registered in, with the ID number: NCT01343927.
    Trials 02/2014; 15(1):67. DOI:10.1186/1745-6215-15-67 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    • "All yoga instructors had completed at least 200 hours of yoga teacher training and had two years of teaching experience. They received a detailed teaching manual and completed 12 hours of in-person training from a senior instructor who had taught in the pilot study [6]. Class size varied (range 3–18, median 8) depending upon the class location and time. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Previous studies have demonstrated that once-weekly yoga classes are effective for chronic low back pain (cLBP) in white adults with high socioeconomic status. The comparative effectiveness of twice-weekly classes and generalizability to racially diverse low income populations are unknown. Methods. We conducted a 12-week randomized, parallel-group, dosing trial for 95 adults recruited from an urban safety-net hospital and five community health centers comparing once-weekly (n = 49) versus twice-weekly (n = 46) standardized yoga classes supplemented by home practice. Primary outcomes were change from baseline to 12 weeks in pain (11-point scale) and back-related function (23-point modified Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire). Results. 82% of participants were nonwhite; 77% had annual household incomes <$40,000. The sample's baseline mean pain intensity [6.9 (SD 1.6)] and function [13.7 (SD 5.0)] reflected moderate to severe back pain and impairment. Pain and back-related function improved within both groups (P < 0.001). However, there were no differences between once-weekly and twice-weekly groups for pain reduction [-2.1 (95% CI -2.9, -1.3) versus -2.4 (95% CI -3.1, -1.8), P = 0.62] or back-related function [-5.1 (95% CI -7.0, -3.2) versus -4.9 (95% CI -6.5, -3.3), P = 0.83]. Conclusions. Twelve weeks of once-weekly or twice-weekly yoga classes were similarly effective for predominantly low income minority adults with moderate to severe chronic low back pain. This trial is registered with NCT01761617.
    Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 06/2013; 2013:658030. DOI:10.1155/2013/658030 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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    • "In the last decade, results from 11 clinical trials evaluating yoga as a treatment for chronic back pain have been published [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]. Most had substantial limitations [1, 2, 4, 6– 8], including small studies with large baseline imbalances on baseline back pain, back dysfunction or key descriptors of back pain history [1] [2] [4], low class attendance [7], and poor follow-up rates [6] [8]. Nonetheless, all of the trials suggest that yoga is beneficial for back pain. "
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    ABSTRACT: Although yoga is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for its benefits. In a trial comparing yoga to intensive stretching and self-care, we explored whether physical (hours of back exercise/week), cognitive (fear avoidance, body awareness, and self-efficacy), affective (psychological distress, perceived stress, positive states of mind, and sleep), and physiological factors (cortisol, DHEA) mediated the effects of yoga or stretching on back-related dysfunction (Roland-Morris Disability Scale (RDQ)). For yoga, 36% of the effect on 12-week RDQ was mediated by increased self-efficacy, 18% by sleep disturbance, 9% by hours of back exercise, and 61% by the best combination of all possible mediators (6 mediators). For stretching, 23% of the effect was mediated by increased self-efficacy, 14% by days of back exercise, and 50% by the best combination of all possible mediators (7 mediators). In open-ended questions, ≥20% of participants noted the following treatment benefits: learning new exercises (both groups), relaxation, increased awareness, and the benefits of breathing (yoga), benefits of regular practice (stretching). Although both self-efficacy and hours of back exercise were the strongest mediators for each intervention, compared to self-care, qualitative data suggest that they may exert their benefits through partially distinct mechanisms.
    Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 04/2013; 2013:130818. DOI:10.1155/2013/130818 · 1.88 Impact Factor
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