Yoga for multiple sclerosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLoS ONE, 2014, 9 (11)
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Cramer et al. While yoga seems to be effective in a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, the evidence of efficacy in multiple sclerosis remains unclear. The aim of this review was to systematically assess and meta-analyze the available data on efficacy and safety of yoga in patients with multiple sclerosis. Medline/PubMed, Scopus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, CAM-Quest, CAMbase, and IndMED were searched through March 2014. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of yoga for patients with multiple sclerosis were included if they assessed health-related quality of life, fatigue, and/or mobility. Mood, cognitive function, and safety were defined as secondary outcome measures. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool. Seven RCTs with a total of 670 patients were included. Evidence for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care were found for fatigue (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 20.52; 95% confidence intervals (CI) = 21.02 to 20.02; p = 0.04; heterogeneity: I2 = 60%; Chi2 = 7.43; p = 0.06) and mood (SMD = 20.55; 95%CI = 20.96 to 20.13; p = 0.01; heterogeneity: I2 = 0%; Chi2 = 1.25; p = 0.53), but not for health-related quality of life, muscle function, or cognitive function. The effects on fatigue and mood were not robust against bias. No short-term or longer term effects of yoga compared to exercise were found. Yoga was not associated with serious adverse events. In conclusion, since no methodological sound evidence was found, no recommendation can be made regarding yoga as a routine intervention for patients with multiple sclerosis. Yoga might be considered a treatment option for patients who are not adherent to recommended exercise regimens.
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