Fibromyalgia affects about 15 million people in the United States. Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by chronic fatigue and pain in the muscles and soft tissue. Other common symptoms include sleep disturbances, memory problems, and headaches. The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose and treat. Now research reports that yoga practice may relieve fibromyalgia symptoms and improve functioning.
The study, published in the journal Pain, compared the effects of yoga on women with fibromyalgia. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon, randomly assigned 53 female patients with fibromyalgia either to a yoga program or standard medication treatment (control group) for eight weeks. The Yoga of Awareness program included gentle yoga poses, meditation, yoga breathing (pranayama), yoga coping instructions and yoga group discussions. Fibromyalgia symptom assessments using questionnaires and physical tests were obtained from the participants.
The researchers found that the yoga group had significant improvement in fibromyalgia symptoms including pain, mood, fatigue, poor sleep, memory problems and coping strategies. Furthermore, the yoga group had a 24 percent decrease in pain, 30 percent decrease in fatigue and 42 percent decrease in depression.
The Main Point
“This pilot study provides promising support for the potential benefits of a yoga program for women with FM [fibromyalgia],” the study authors conclude.
Since fibromyalgia is difficult to treat, this pilot study has important implications for fibromyalgia treatment. The results suggest that yoga should be considered as a prescribed treatment for fibromyalgia.
Are you a practicing yoga to help manage fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue? Please share with us below.
Carson JW et al. A pilot randomized controlled trial of the Yoga of Awareness program in the management of fibromyalgia. Pain, 2010; 151 (2): 530 DOI: 10.1016/u.pain.2010.08.020
Gavalas, Elaine. The Yoga Minibook for Energy and Strength. Simon & Schuster Fireside. elainegavalas.com .