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Papers of the Week

2022 Jan 01

Int J Yoga Therap



Therapeutic Yoga for the Management of Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain: Current Evidence and Mechanisms.


Mohan A, Tijmes S, Mehta A, Cohen JG
Int J Yoga Therap. 2022 Jan 01; 32(2022).
PMID: 35405737.


Chronic nonspecific neck pain (CNNP), which is neck pain in the absence of attributable structural and neurological findings, is often challenging for medical and rehabilitation professionals to treat. Conventional treatments such as medications and physical therapy often fail to provide lasting relief, which leads patients to pursue complementary therapies such as yoga. This review discusses the evidence from nine studies, including four randomized controlled trials, which suggests that a supervised yoga program may decrease pain intensity, disability, and mood symptoms in adults with CNNP. Cervical range of motion and quality of life (both physical and mental) may also improve with yoga intervention, although this is less consistent across studies. Evidence of yoga's superiority to other exercise-based practices such as pilates was conflicting. Adverse effects of yoga, such as exacerbation of neck pain, were relatively uncommon, minor, and often transient. This article also comprehensively reviews the pathophysiology of CNNP, therapeutic mechanisms of yoga, and limitations in the evidence (including risk-of-bias assessment). Future studies should attempt to: (1) compare the effectiveness of different lineages of yoga for individuals with CNNP, (2) determine the optimal length and duration of these yoga interventions, (3) better characterize the physical and psychological mechanisms of yoga, (4) compare yoga to other exercise- and mindfulness-based practices, (5) evaluate the effect of yoga on sleep in the CNNP population, and (6) explore the applicability/efficacy of virtual yoga instruction.