Several studies have shown massage therapy and other touch techniques are effective at reducing fibromyalgia symptoms. including pain and fatigue. New research shows that another complementary health therapy, yoga, benefits fibromyalgia patients as well.

Fibromyalgia that affects 11 million individuals in the U.S., and carries an annual direct cost for care of more than $20 billion, according to a press release from Elsevier, which published the study results.

Standard care includes medications accompanied by exercise and coping skills approaches, yet drug therapies are generally only 30-percent effective in relieving symptoms and 20-percent effective in improving function, the press release noted.

In the new study, patients participating in a Yoga of Awareness program showed significantly greater improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms and functioning compared to patients on a standard fibromyalgia-care program.

Following treatment, patients assigned to the yoga program showed significantly greater improvements on standardized measures of fibromyalgia symptoms and functioning than did the control group, including pain, fatigue, and mood, and in pain catastrophizing, acceptance and other coping strategies.

“Although yoga has been practiced for millennia, only recently have researchers begun to demonstrate yoga’s effects on persons suffering from persistent pain,” commented lead investigator James W. Carson, Ph.D., of Oregon Health & Science University.

“The Yoga of Awareness program stands in contrast to previous multimodal interventions with [fibromyalgia] patients in that it integrates a wide spectrum of yoga-based techniques, [including] postures, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, application of yogic principles to optimal coping and group discussions,” Carson continued. “The findings of this pilot study provide promising preliminary support for the beneficial effects of yoga in patients with [fibromyalgia].”

The article “A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia, appearing in PAIN, Volume 151, Issue 2 (October 2010) published by Elsevier. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2010.08.020

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