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Press Release
Research suggests yoga can counteract fibromyalgia
Thursday, October 14, 2010


(Photo: martin louis/STOCK.XCHNG)
According to new research conducted at Oregon Health & Science University, yoga exercises may have the power to combat fibromyalgia — a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain. The research is being published in the November 10 online edition of the journal Pain and will appear online Thursday, Oct. 14.

"Previous research suggests that the most successful treatment for fibromyalgia involves a combination of medications, physical exercise and development of coping skills," said James Carson, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. "Here, we specifically focused on yoga to determine whether it should be considered as a prescribed treatment and the extent to which it can be successful."

In this study, researchers enrolled 53 female study subjects previously diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The women were randomly assigned to two research groups. The first group participated in an eight-week yoga program, which included gentle poses, meditation, breathing exercises and group discussions. The second group of women — the control group — received standard medication treatments for fibromyalgia.

Following completion of the yoga program, researchers assessed each study subject using questionnaires and physical tests. The results were then compared with testing results obtained prior to the yoga classes. The members of the control group underwent the same evaluations. In addition, each participant in the yoga group was urged to keep a daily diary to personally assess their condition throughout the entire program.

Comparison of the data for the two groups revealed that yoga appears to assist in combating a number of serious fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, poor memory, anxiety and poor balance. All of these improvements were shown to be not only statistically but also clinically significant, meaning the changes were large enough to have a practical impact on daily functioning. For example, pain was reduced in the yoga group by an average of 24 percent, fatigue by 30 percent and depression by 42 percent.

"One likely reason for the apparent success of this study therapy was the strong commitment shown by the study subjects. Attendance at the classes was good as was most participants' willingness to practice yoga while at home," added Carson. "Based on the results of this research, we strongly believe that further study of this potential therapy is warranted."

As an outcome of this study and Carson's previous research showing yoga can be helpful with cancer-related pain, next June the OHSU Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine will be sponsoring a training course for U.S. and Canadian yoga teachers who want to build their skills for working with individuals who have chronic pain.

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Oregon Health & Science University: http://www.ohsu.edu


Thanks to Oregon Health & Science University for this article.

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Comments

Will
UC Davis
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 12:05 pm CDT

I would like to know though if these subjects are normally active or if they are inactive?

Would any exercise have the same effect?


Jennifer Olson
Wake Forest University School of Medicine
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 12:55 pm CDT

As a scientist and a fibro patient, I'll vouch for this... my own symptoms lessen when I am able to regularly practice yoga.


Will
UC Davis
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 1:01 pm CDT

But have you tried sports?  I would be interested in knowing if its only yoga taht works.


Why am I doing this again?
Washington University
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 2:21 pm CDT

I wonder if the yoga was 1hr a day or less? And whether pilates would also helpful seeing that they are similar in their use of the body for stretching and posing?!? Maybe the muscle groups that yoga targets, the core and frequently unused muscles, are the key relieving the pain!?


Nikkilina
Washington University School of Medicine
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 2:30 pm CDT

Good questions. It would be interesting to repeat the study using other forms of exercise, including Pilates.


Will
UC Davis
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 5:11 pm CDT

So I just realised that apart from what I see on the TV I'm not actually sure what it is.

On TV it says it is overactive nerves.  I thought that it was a trapped nerve.  Can someone who knows more about this, give me some info.

 

Thanks


JanedeLartigue
UC Davis
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 5:27 pm CDT

According to wikipedia it's muscle and connective tissue pain and heightened and painful response to pressure.  It says the cause isn't known but is suspected to be a lower threshold for pain because of increased sensitivity to pain signals in the brain. Basically they don't really know.  It's often related to depression and stress.  It would be interesting to see whether yoga helps people with depression/stress, whether it's a mind thing, or a body thing.


Will
UC Davis
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Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 5:37 pm CDT

Don't you love Wiki, although in this case it is a whole lot of waffle and not much insight.

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