As a young girl, Rachel Brathen lived with crippling back pain. Born with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, she was later in a car accident, then a white-water rafting accident that made her back problems worse.
“I had so much pain that I would wake up and reach my arm out to touch my alarm … and something would just snap,” the 26-year-old who now lives in Aruba said.
When she was a teen, doctors recommended surgery to straighten her spine. Both her aunt and grandmother also were diagnosed with scoliosis. Her aunt opted for the back surgery, which helped alleviate pain but also left her with very limited movement in her spine.
Then, a friend suggested Brathen try yoga. She decided to try a few classes before undergoing the knife.
More than 22 million people practice yoga in the United States, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Many of them practice to improve flexibility and find pain relief, according to the Yoga Journal.
But as Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, noted, it’s difficult to pin down whether yoga is effective at easing symptoms of those who have back pain.
“There are many types of yoga and so many different causes of back pain,” he said.
Despite the lack of conclusive research, Besser said, there is some recent evidence to suggest that people with chronic low-back pain who do a carefully adapted set of yoga poses may experience less pain and improve their ability to walk and move. Continue reading >>