Yoga for Treating Low Back Pain

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Dennis Anheyer; Heidemarie Haller; Romy Lauche; Gustav Dobos; Holger Cramer


Pain. 2022;163(4):e504-e517. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Yoga is frequently used for back pain relief. However, the evidence was judged to be of only low to moderate certainty. To assess the efficacy and safety of yoga in patients with low back pain, a meta-analysis was performed. Therefore, MEDLINE/PubMed, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library were searched to May 26, 2020. Only randomized controlled trials comparing Yoga with passive control (usual care or wait list), or an active comparator, for patients with low back pain and that assessed pain intensity or pain-related disability as a primary outcome were considered to be eligible. Two reviewers independently extracted data on study characteristics, outcome measures, and results at short-term and long-term follow-up. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Thirty articles on 27 individual studies (2702 participants in total) proved eligible for review. Compared with passive control, yoga was associated with short-term improvements in pain intensity (15 RCTs; mean difference [MD] = −0.74 points on a numeric rating scale; 95% confidence interval [CI] = −1.04 to −0.44; standardized mean difference [SMD] = −0.37 95% CI = −0.52 to −0.22), pain-related disability (15 RCTs; MD = −2.28; 95% CI = −3.30 to −1.26; SMD = −0.38 95% CI = −0.55 to −0.21), mental health (7 RCTs; MD = 1.70; 95% CI = 0.20–3.20; SMD = 0.17 95% CI = 0.02–0.32), and physical functioning (9 RCTs; MD = 2.80; 95% CI = 1.00–4.70; SMD = 0.28 95% CI = 0.10–0.47). Except for mental health, all effects were sustained long-term. Compared with an active comparator, yoga was not associated with any significant differences in short-term or long-term outcomes.