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An Evaluation of Bikram Yoga at Reducing the Level of Back Pain
AuthorKeller, Jennifer M.
AdvisorDeBoor, Stephanie S.
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Low back pain is a significant public health problem and one of the most commonly reported reasons for the use of Complimentary Alternative Medicine. In the U.S. 70% to 80% of the population has experienced at least one episode of back pain sometime in their lives. Healthcare workers, in particular, are at an increased risk for back pain; nursing has one of the highest incidences of back injuries of all occupations. With lower back pain affecting so many people, new interventions need to be identified to cope with debilitating back pain in the high risk field of health care. Alternative medicine, such as yoga, has been proven effective to lower or eliminate symptoms in a variety of illnesses. Yoga may be a safer, less invasive treatment for pain in nurses.The purpose of this study was to identify an alternate method of pain control in those who experience back pain. Bikram yoga, a systematic, hot and humid type of yoga has been identified to alleviate back pain.Thirty subjects with self-identified back pain voluntarily participated in this research. Subjects attended Bikram yoga once a week while concurrently participating in traditional exercise. Participants were asked to log back pain before and after each intervention. After four weeks participants returned pain assessment logs for review and data analysis. Nurses, as one of the occupations with the highest rates of reported back pain, were evaluated as a subset. Results were evaluated by a paired t-test, with a Cohen's d calculated for effect size. There was a significant reduction in pain scores associated with Bikram yoga when compared with traditional exercise in both the group as a whole (p=<.001, effect size 1.540) and in nurses as a subset (p=.007, effect size1.491). Bikram yoga may be initiated to alleviate pain in those who experience back pain.