Yoga Combats Serious Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

New research shows practicing yoga can combat pain and other serious symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. In a study, the effects of yoga were compared to a group given an eight week program of gentle poses, meditation, breathing exercises and group discussions to a group of fibromyalgia patients undergoing standard therapy with medication.

The study, conducted at Oregon Health & Science University, enrolled 53 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia in an effort to determine if yoga "should be considered as a prescribed treatment and the extent to which it can be successful."

James Carson, PhD., a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine says, "Previous research suggests that the most successful treatment for fibromyalgia involves a combination of medications, physical exercise and development of coping skills." The current study focused specifically on yoga.

The group assigned yoga kept a diary throughout the study. Questionnaires and physical exam were used to evaluate pain, stiffness, fatigue, poor sleep and memory, depression and anxiety and balance before and after the study.

Yoga reduced fibromyalgia pain, fatigue and depression after 8 weeks

The study revealed that yoga had a significant impact for reducing pain, fatigue and depression associated with fibromyalgia.

Compared to the group receiving standard medical therapy, participants given an 8 week program of yoga experienced a  24 percent reduction in pain, 30 percent reduction in fatigue, and depression was reduced by 42 percent.

Carson noted "One likely reason for the apparent success of this study therapy was the strong commitment shown by the study subjects. Attendance at the classes was good as was most participants' willingness to practice yoga while at home."

As a result of their studies the Oregon Health and State University researchers plan to offer teaching to U.S. and Canadian yoga teachers next June, focused on helping individuals with chronic pain. Previous research from OSHU showed that yoga can also help cancer pain. The new findings show yoga could be beneficial for combating serious symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

Oregon Health & Science University