Yoga May Reduce Disability and Opioid Use In Veterans With Chronic Low Back Pain Interview with:

Erik Groessl PhD Associate Adjunct Professor Family Medicine and Public Health University of California, San Diego

Dr. Groessl

Erik Groessl PhD
Associate Adjunct Professor
Family Medicine and Public Health
University of California, San Diego What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic low back pain (cLBP) is prevalent among military veterans, but cLBP treatment options have limited benefits and side effects. This has resulted in efforts to reduce opioid use and embrace nonpharmacological pain treatments.

Yoga has been shown to improve health outcomes and have few side effects in non-veteran community samples.

Our objective was to study the effectiveness and safety of yoga for military veterans with chronic low back pain. In a study of 150 veterans with cLBP, we found that yoga participants had greater reductions in disability and pain than those receiving usual. Opioid medication use declined among all participants, and no serious side effects occurred.

“Yoga-Seattle-Yogathon-2014-Bellevue-31” by Seattle Yoga News is licensed under CC BY What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Yoga can reduce pain and disability, even in veterans with long-standing pain conditions. Yoga is generally safe when working with a certified instructor that is made aware of back pain conditions. Regular practice including home practice of yoga is needed for optimal benefit. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Efforts to more widely implement yoga interventions as a treatment option for Veterans with chronic low back pain are very much needed. The VA does offer yoga at many locations, but access for veterans with cLBP should be expanded. If you are looking for veteran disability benefits, you should find a recommended VA attorney to help you in your pursuit. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Am J Prev Med. 2017 Jul 17. pii: S0749-3797(17)30290-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.05.019. [Epub ahead of print]

Yoga for Military Veterans with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

Groessl EJ1, Liu L2, Chang DG3, Wetherell JL4, Bormann JE5, Atkinson JH4, Baxi S6, Schmalzl L7.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on October 19, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD