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

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Is low back pain keeping you from doing things you enjoy? Researchers at West Virginia University may be able to help.

Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in Community Medicine at WVU, 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.

The study is currently recruiting its fourth and final group. Participants stand to gain $1000 worth of free yoga treatment for their chronic low back pain.

To qualify for the study, you must have recently had chronic lower back pain for a period of three or more months due to stiff muscles, degenerating disc disease, sacroiliac or lumbar sprain, herniated disc, myofacial syndrome or sciatica, to name a few.

The study is free, but, only people insured by PEIA, Mountain State Blue Cross Blue Shield, or as employees of Monongalia Health Systems, West Virginia University Hospital and University Health Associates are eligible to be in the study.

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 brief phone screening. If you are determined 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 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. Both groups can continue with their standard medical care, which includes physical therapy.

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 final group will begin in February, 2007, and interested parties should call  (304) 293-BACK (2225) now to determine your eligibility. Yoga classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Inner Life Yoga Studio’s new location in Chelsea Square, across the street from Health South rehabilitation hospital.

- WVU -

For more information:
Kimberly Williams, Comm Medicine, (304)293-7559

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