By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Healing your back with the help of yoga. It is a simple solution for people suffering from chronic back pain.

A new study, conducted right here in Boston, has found yoga may be an easy answer for some.

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Judith Zaborowski, who has significant arthritis in her spine, takes yoga. The 74-year-old says the practice helps ease her back pain.


“I’m much more comfortable with movement,” Judith explains.

Now a new study from Boston Medical Center backs that up. Researchers looked at more than 300 low-income patients with chronic lower back pain. Some took yoga classes designed for back pain once a week while others did physical therapy. Dr. Rob Saper, a family medicine physician at BMC, led the study.

“We found the yoga was as effective as physical therapy for reducing pain intensity, improving people’s physical function, and perhaps most importantly reducing pain medication use,” says Dr. Saper.

Yoga instructor Debby Green says yoga cultivates balance in the body, which can relieve back pain. She says different kinds of yoga poses, as well as “traction-ing”, can help improve range of motion in the back.

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“We have the equipment and we use it, and it’s really helpful, but you could do without equipment,” says Debby. “Everyone can do it.”

Carol Shapiro has scoliosis. She has suffered with back pain for much of her life.

“When you’re in severe pain…I’m really not one for medication…it is truly debilitating,” says Carol.

She says yoga has allowed her to be much more mobile.

“I feel really strong, powerful, connected,” Carol explains.

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Researchers say based on this study, they hope more doctors will recommend yoga to treat chronic back pain.

Dr. Mallika Marshall