As the number one cause of disability in the world, there are serious efforts being made by scientists to find effective treatments that do not include medical interventions like pain killers, or in more extreme situations, surgery.
In a new study carried out over 1 year, led by Robert B. Saper at the Boston Medical Center, patients were monitored to see if yoga was as effective as physical therapy in treating chronic lower back pain. Patients were placed into 3 treatment groups which included a group for yoga sessions, a group for physical therapy, and a control group that received educational information about chronic lower back pain. For an initial 3 months, the yoga group had weekly yoga sessions and was compared to the physical therapy group who visited a practitioner 15 times. After this initial phase, patients were free to go to yoga sessions or physical therapy practices as they saw fit. It was shown that yoga was an effective treatment for chronic lower back pain although, results of the study also indicated that as a pain relieving treatment, yoga is just as effective as physical therapy.