Yoga improved the quality of life of patients involved in 12-week trial who suffered from recurrent or chronic low back pain. These patients needed to take fewer days off of work due to back pain compared to controls, according to researchers in York, United Kingdom.
The trial’s purpose was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of group yoga plus usual care compared to usual care alone.
Study participants attended weekly group yoga classes for 12 weeks and saw their usual general practitioners for treatment of chronic low back pain via usual care, which may have involved physiotherapy or taking pain medication. The control group only received usual care.
According to the study results, yoga, as an intervention for low back pain, had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of £13,606 or $21,376 U.S. per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) from the perspective of the U.K. National Health Service (NHS). Thus, given a willingness of £20,000 or $31,422 to pay for additional QALY, the yoga intervention had a 72% chance of being cost-effective, the investigators found.
The study was recently published in Spine.
“Back pain represents a significant burden to the NHS in the U.K. and to society as a whole. As well as the associated health care costs, it is also a major cause of work absenteeism, which leads to a productivity loss to society,” David J. Torgerson, PhD, lead study author and professor at the University of York, stated in a university press release.
“While yoga has been shown as an effective intervention for treating chronic and low back pain, until now there has been little evidence on its cost effectiveness,” he stated.
Participating in the yoga program led to less time out of work vs. controls. On average, yoga class participants took 4 days off of work compared to the control group, which took 12 days off of work for back pain. Costs associated with the days away from work were £374 or $587 U.S. in the yoga group and £1,202 or $1,888 U.S. in the control group, according to the release.
Chuang L-H, Soares MO, Tilbrook H, et al. A pragmatic multicentered randomized controlled trial of yoga for chronic low back pain: economic evaluation. Spine. 2012;37(18):1593-1601. doi:10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182545937.
Disclosure: The research was funded by Arthritis Research UK.