Yoga and physiotherapy for the treatment of sleep disorders and back pain

Yoga and physiotherapy for the treatment of sleep disorders and back pain

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How can insomnia and chronic back pain be treated?

Yoga and physiotherapy can be effective approaches to treating sleep disorders and back pain while reducing the need for medication.

The recent study by the Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga and physiotherapy can help reduce sleep disorders and chronic lower back pain. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of General Internal Medicine".

Yoga and physiotherapy improve our sleep

The researchers found in their investigation that yoga and physiotherapy achieve significant improvements in sleep quality. Participants were instructed to do either one hour of yoga or one hour of physiotherapy for twelve weeks. A control group was simply provided with teaching material.

There is a connection between pain and sleep

Benefits from yoga and physiotherapy continued for 52 weeks, indicating the long-term benefits of these non-pharmacological approaches. If participants experienced early pain relief after only six weeks of treatment, they were three and a half times more likely to improve sleep after 12 weeks of treatment. This suggests that pain and sleep are closely related.

Back pain can trigger sleep problems

Sleep disorders and insomnia are particularly common in people with chronic lower back pain. Previous sleep research has shown that 59 percent of people with chronic low back pain suffer from poor sleep quality. Finally, sleep disorders were diagnosed in 53 percent of these people.

Treat back pain and sleep problems with medication?

Many people with severe back pain use pain relievers, while sleeping pills are often used for sleep disorders. Medicines for sleep problems and back pain can have serious side effects.

Medication should be reduced

"Identifying holistic treatment methods could help reduce confidence in these drugs and increase patient safety and comfort," said study author Eric Roseen of the Boston University School of Medicine in a press release.

320 people participated in the study

The randomized controlled trial included a total of 320 adults with chronic lower back pain. At the start of the study, over 90 percent of participants with chronic back pain experienced poor sleep. Participants were assigned one of three different therapies.

What forms of treatment were there?

The participants either carried out physiotherapy or took part in a yoga class or limited themselves to reading information material on the topic. Earlier studies from the Boston University School of Medicine have shown that yoga and physiotherapy are similarly effective in reducing pain and improving physical functions, which also reduces the need for painkillers.

Non-pharmacological approaches to treatment should be preferred

"The high prevalence of sleep problems in adults with chronic lower back pain can adversely affect a person's overall health and well-being," Roseen continues. For the best possible treatment, patients with chronic low back pain should be asked about the quality of their sleep. Given the serious risks of a combination of painkillers and sleeping pills, non-pharmacological approaches should definitely be considered for affected individuals. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Eric J. Roseen, Hanna Gerlovin, Alexandra Femia, Jae Cho, Suzanne Bertisch et al .: Yoga, Physical Therapy, and Back Pain Education for Sleep Quality in Low-Income Racially Diverse Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain: a Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial, in Journal of General Internal Medicine (query: 20.11.2019), Journal of General Internal Medicine
  • Yoga and Physical Therapy as Treatment for Chronic Lower Back Pain Also Improves Sleep, Boston University School of Medicine (query: November 20, 2019), Boston University School of Medicine

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