WVU to Study Yoga’s Effect on Chronic Low Back Pain

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in Community Medicine at West Virginia University, has received a National Institutes of Health grant to study whether or not yoga therapy is more effective in alleviating chronic lower back pain than standard medical therapy. Dr. Williams is exploring whether or not yoga therapy might lead study participants to experience a reduction in pain-related measures when compared with those participants who continue to receive standard medical practice.

Participants in the study must have recently had chronic lower back pain for a period of three or more months. Currently, only people with PEIA, The Health Plan, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Monongalia Health Systems insurance are eligible to be in the study, although the number of participating insurance companies is expected to grow. No previous experience with yoga is needed.

Find out if you are eligible for this free study by calling (304) 293-BACK (2225) during work hours. The research team will conduct a short phone screening. If you seem to be a suitable candidate, you will be seen by a study physician to further assess your eligibility. This will involve going to the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, completing consent forms and several short questionnaires, then having a physical exam with a study physician.

The people who are chosen will be randomly placed into either a group that continues to receive standard medical care or a yoga therapy group that attends yoga classes twice a week for 24 weeks. Standard medical care group members will be eligible for six months of free yoga therapy at the end of the study, provided they follow the study guidelines. All participants must agree not to use chiropractic treatments, massage therapy, Pilates, or acupuncture while they are in the study. Standard medical care group members must also agree not to practice yoga during the study period.

The first group enrolled in the study has nearly completed the 24-week intervention. A second group recently began the study. The next group begins in September. Please call (304) 293-BACK (2225) soon to determine your eligibility. Yoga classes will be held Mondays and Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Sabraton.

The last group of the study will start in January, 2007.

- WVU -

For more information:
Steve Bovino, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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