Yoga for Chronic Neck Pain: A 12-Month Follow-Up

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Journal Article
Pain Medicine (United States), 2013, 14 (4), pp. 541 - 548
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To assess the effects of a 9-week yoga intervention on chronic nonspecific neck pain 12 months after completion. Design: Twelve-month follow-up of the pooled data of both arms of a randomized, controlled trial. Setting: Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at an academic teaching hospital. Subjects: Fifty-one patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain (mean age 47.8 years; 82.4% female). Interventions: A 9-week yoga group intervention. Outcome Measures: Neck pain intensity (100-mm visual analog scale), functional disability (neck disability index), health-related quality of life (short-form 36 questionnaire, SF-36), generic disability (days with restricted activities), and global improvement. Results: From baseline to 12-month follow-up, pain intensity improved from 48.81±17.71 to 32.31±20.68 (P<0.001), neck-related disability decreased from 25.26±9.02 to 19.49±11.52 (P=0.001), and bodily pain in the SF-36 improved from 49.37±12.40 to 59.26±17.57 (P=0.005). Improvements in pain intensity were predicted by weekly minutes of yoga practice during the past 4 weeks (r2=0.12, P=0.028); improved neck-related disability (r2=0.24, P=0.001) and bodily pain (r2=0.26, P=0.006) were predicted by regular yoga practice during the past 12 months. Generic disability did not decrease significantly. Twenty-four patients (68.6%) rated their health as at least somewhat improved. Conclusions: A 9-week yoga intervention improved pain and neck-related disability for at least 12 months after completion. Sustained yoga practice seems to be the most important predictor of long-term effectiveness. © 2013 American Academy of Pain Medicine.
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