Yoga and What the Spine Experts Say

Spine experts Kevin Pauza, MD and Richard Deyo, MD recently weighed in on an often asked question, “Is yoga good for my back pain?”.  In a recent Consumer Reports article, Richard Deyo, MD, Professor of Evidence-Based Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, and author of the guidelines released by the American College of Physicians (ACP), recommended non-drug remedies, including yoga first, for patients struggling with back pain.

Kevin Pauza, MD, Founding Partner of Texas Spine and Joint Hospital and Manhattan Spine and Joint Institute, said he directs his patients towards facts when answering this question. “What does the scientific research tell us?” According to Pauza, in Consumer Reports, these new guidelines are based on numerous studies suggesting that trying yoga for back pain is a good move.

Evidence supporting yoga is as strong as evidence for other non-medical treatments such as chiropractic, massage, and tai chi. Dr. Pauza stated, “I like yoga, because I’ve never seen a patient made worse with yoga, but the same can’t be said regarding spine surgery”. Pauza has world-renown expertise in treating complex spines and complications resulting from prior spine surgeries.

While Dr. Pauza agrees with Deyo that there is much research supporting yoga for patients with chronic back pain, he advises patients to let their pain be their guide. Pauza’s states that two movements damage spine discs over time: spine rotation causes shear forces, tearing discs, and spine flexion forward causes compressive forces, squeezing discs. “So attempt to minimize these movements, while performing yoga and other exercises”, Pauza said.

Look for yoga with the words “gentle” and “restorative” versus “power” and “Ashtanga”, which are two of the more vigorous yoga styles.

Richard Deyo, MD is a leading authority on epidemiological studies involving spine treatments, and has a research program funded by the NIH.

Kevin Pauza, MD is a foremost authority on treating complex spines and complications resulting from prior surgeries. He serves on scientific Advisory Boards in the United Stated, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.


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