Ancient Practice Could Save Americans Billions Each Year

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, General Health

Americans spend nearly $86 billion a year on back pain treatments. That’s more than three quarters of what we spend on cancer treatments each year.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that U.S. back pain expenditures climbed 65 percent between 1997 and 2005. At the same time, there’s been an estimated 171 percent spending increase on drugs to treat back pain.

But the problem is not only that modern medicine’s “go-to” treatments for back problems are expensive. It’s that these traditional treatments – including spinal injections and spinal surgery – simply aren’t working.

Despite the rapid increase in costs, says the JAMA study, “there was no improvement in self-assessed health status, functional disability, work limitations, or social functioning among respondents with spine problems.”

The reason traditional back treatments fail may be simple. The so-called solutions don’t target the true cause of chronic back pain. That includes lifestyle factors like poor posture, weight gain, chronic inflammation, improper lifting and carrying, and sleeping on unsupportive mattresses.

However, recent research from the University of York shows there’s a simple solution. One that may resolve back problems… help ease chronic back pain… and prevent the need for costly treatment.

Inexpensive, Natural Therapy Banishes Back Problems and Eases Pain

Yoga may be much more beneficial in restoring normal back function than standard treatments. In fact, it may help fix chronic back problems for good.

David Torgerson, PhD, led the study. He works for the department of health sciences at the University of York.

He says that yoga addresses all the core problems with back pain…and restores your natural alignment.

Torgerson conducted his study on 313 patients. 156 of them received Yoga intervention. 157 received traditional back pain treatment, which included imaging, education, and prescription acetaminophen and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Torgerson then gathered disability questionnaires after three, six, and 12 months.

He discovered that, compared to those getting traditional treatment, the yoga group had improved back function, less pain, and better health measurements after each of the three time periods.

Those who took yoga classes were also able to do 30 percent more activities than the other group.

“Our results showed that yoga can provide both short and long-term benefits to those suffering from chronic or recurrent back pain, without any serious side-effects,” says Dr. Torgerson.

The long-term benefits may come from yoga’s ability to address many of the factors that cause back pain. Yoga not only helps relieve pain. It also helps to prevent problems by strengthening and mobilizing the back, improving posture, and showing how a healthy back functions.

Says Dr. Torgerson, “Yoga could be recommended as a therapy for chronic low back pain.”

He also notes that his study was “the largest to date, and it has the longest follow-up of any trial,” which adds credibility to the results.

Benefits Beyond Back Pain

Yoga can also help with overall flexibility by targeting your hips. The hips are often implicated as a major source of back pain.

Sitting for long periods of time bends your hip flexors in one direction, which makes them short and tight. This effects the rest of your body, including your back. Yoga targets the hips, loosening them and easing back pain.

Years of scientific studies have examined yoga’s effect on humans. Evidence shows yoga can reduce your heart rate, lower blood pressure, combat diabetes, and even help you lose weight.

Many yoga classes combine a variety of styles. You can find yoga at your local community center or gym, or at a nearby yoga studio. Some hospitals even offer yoga classes now as doctors become more aware of yoga’s endless health benefits.

Some styles, like Hatha Yoga, combine physical postures with movement and relaxed breathing.

You may also want to try Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, which is a more powerful form of yoga. It helps build strength and flexibility while also incorporating slow, relaxed breathing.

No matter the style you choose, you can find beginner classes if you’ve never done yoga. Once you learn a flow or a few postures, you can even practice it at home.

Chronic back pain can develop over time. Adding yoga into your life can keep your back supple and functioning… and help you remain pain free. You can also capitalize on the other health benefits yoga offers, such as reduced stress and increased strength and conditioning.

To your best health,

Michael Jelinek,

Managing Editor, NHD “Health Watch”