Yoga reduces pain levels in individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee(1), other osteoarthritis conditions and carpal tunnel syndrome(2), arthritis(3), and chronic low-back pain(4). In one study with AIDS patients, yoga also reduced the usage of pain medication(5). A 6-year longitudinal study of individuals with chronic pain found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a technique that combines gentle yoga practice with mindfulness meditation, reduced pain(6). Individuals with arthritis, back/neck pain, or two or more comorbid pain conditions were most likely to experience improvements in pain intensity and functional limitations in response to MBSR. In particular, yoga may reduce the muscular tension that precipitates pain(7) and thus serves as an effective preventative technique.
Older adults and individuals with mobility limitations may find Chair Yoga particularly useful to support pain management. Chair Yoga is a gentle, adapted form of yoga which can accommodate your individual level of flexibility and support you in building core body strength, improved range of motion, and an overall reduction in pain. Find a qualified Chair Yoga teacher in your area to support you in building a Chair Yoga practice that is adapted to your health and any chronic pain or injury conditions.
Click here to practice a 10-minute Chair Yoga routine designed to support chronic pain management, developed by the therapists in the Chronic Pain Service at Toronto Rehab, Rumsey Centre.
Article adapted from: Bonura, K.B. (2011). The Psychological Benefits of Yoga for Older Adults: Evidence and Guidelines. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 21, 129 – 142.
1 Selfe T, Innes K. Effects of meditation on knee pain, function, and related outcomes in older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee: An exploratory study. Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research; 2010, Honesdale, PA.
2 Garfinkel M, Schumacher HR. Yoga. Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America. 2000;26:125-32.
3 Hansen E. Yoga for seniors for arthritis: A pilot study. International Journal of Yoga Therapy. 2010;20:55-60.
4 Williams KA, Petronis J, Smith D, Goodrich D, Wu J, Ravi N, Doyle E, Juckett G, Kolar M, Gross R, Steinberg L. Effect of Iyengar yoga therapy for chronic low back pain. Pain. 2005;115:107-117.
5 Bonadies V. A yoga therapy program for AIDS-related pain and anxiety: implications for therapeutic recreation. Therapeutic Recreation Journal. 2004;38:148-166.
6 Rosenzweig S, Greeson J, Reibel D, Green J, Jasser S, Beasley D. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2010; 68:29-36.
7 Gura ST. Yoga for stress reduction and injury prevention at work. Work: Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation. 2002;19:3-7.