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Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Nov;16(4):187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.05.007. Epub 2010 Jun 12.

A randomised controlled trial of yoga for the treatment of chronic low back pain: results of a pilot study.

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Department of Health Sciences, SRB Area 4, University of York, York YO10 5DD, United Kingdom.



To conduct a pilot trial of yoga for the treatment of chronic low back pain (LBP) to inform the feasibility and practicality of conducting a full-scale trial in the UK; and to assess the efficacy of yoga for the treatment of chronic low back pain.


A pragmatic randomised controlled trial was undertaken comparing yoga to usual care.


Twenty participants who had presented to their GP with chronic low back pain in the previous 18 months were recruited via GP records from one practice in York, UK.


Twenty patients were randomised to either 12 weekly 75-min sessions of specialised yoga plus written advice, or usual care plus written advice. Allocation was 50/50.


Recruitment rate, levels of intervention attendance, and loss to follow-up were the main non-clinical outcomes. Change as measured by the Roland and Morris disability questionnaire was the primary clinical outcome. Changes in the Aberdeen back pain scale, SF-12, EQ-5D, and pain self-efficacy were secondary clinical outcomes. Data were collected via postal questionnaire at baseline, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks follow-up.


Of the 286 patients identified from the GP database, 52 (18%) consented and returned the eligibility questionnaire, out of these 20 (6.9%) were eligible and randomised. The total percentage of patients randomised from the GP practice population was 0.28%. Ten patients were randomised to yoga, receiving an average of 1.7 sessions (range 0-5), and 10 were randomised to usual care. At 12 weeks follow-up data was received from 60% of patients in the yoga group and 90% of patients in the usual care group (75% overall). No significant differences were seen between groups in clinical outcomes apart from on the Aberdeen back pain scale at four weeks follow-up where the yoga group reported significantly less pain.


This pilot study provided useful data and information to inform the design and development of a full-scale trial of yoga for CLBP in the UK. A key finding is the calculation of GP practice total list size required for patient recruitment in a full-scale trial, and the need to implement methods to increase class attendance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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