|Yoga can help with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia affects 11-15 million people in the US alone and is a horribly debilitating condition for which drugs only relieve 30% of symptoms and improve function in 20% of sufferers.

To discover whether a comprehensive yoga programme targeted specifically at fibromyalgia could help, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University chose 53 women over 21 who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia by American College of Rheumatology criteria for at least one year and be on a stable regimen of pharmacologic and/or non-pharmacologic treatment for at least 3 months. All participants were women as the condition is very much more common among women – 80–90% of all sufferers. Twenty five participated in the Yoga of Awareness program, while 28 received standard care.

Each Yoga of Awareness class included approximately 40 minutes of gentle stretching poses, 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation (e.g., awareness of breath, awareness of awareness itself), 10 minutes of breathing techniques (e.g., full yogic breath, breathing into sensation), 20 minutes of didactic presentations on the application of yogic principles to optimal coping, and 25 minutes of group discussions (e.g., experiences while practicing yoga at home).

Following treatment, women assigned to the yoga program showed significantly greater improvements on standardised measures of FM symptoms and functioning, including pain, fatigue, and mood, and in pain catastrophizing, acceptance, and other coping strategies.

Lead researcher Dr James Carson commented, "The results suggested the yoga intervention led to a beneficial shift in how patients cope with pain, including greater use of adaptive pain coping strategies (i.e., problem solving, positive reappraisal, use of religion, activity engagement despite pain, acceptance, relaxation) and less use of maladaptive strategies (i.e., catastrophizing, self-isolation, disengagement, confrontation)."

"A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia" by James Carson et al. PAIN, Volume 151, Issue 2 (October 2010)

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First Published October 2010

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