OHSU Logo Approximately 15 million Americans are probably suffering from fibromyalgia, a syndrome largely characterized by muscle pain and fatigue. Though the precise cause of this ailment is unknown, genetics and physical / emotional stress seem to play a major role in its development. According to a recent study undertaken by the Oregon Health and Science University, yoga exercises can help in the battle against fibromyalgia.

The study was triggered on 53 women who were previously diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Researchers randomly assigned the study subjects into two groups. The first group was made to participate in an eight-week yoga program that comprised gentle poses, meditation, breathing exercises and group discussions. The second group, so-called the control group was provided with standard medication treatments for fibromyalgia. On completion of the yoga program, participants had to fill in questionnaires and go through physical tests. The results were compared to data gathered before the yoga classes. The control group too went through similar evaluations.

James Carson, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and an assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine, said, “Previous research suggests that the most successful treatment for fibromyalgia involves a combination of medications, physical exercise and development of coping skills. Here, we specifically focused on yoga to determine whether it should be considered as a prescribed treatment and the extent to which it can be successful.”

The yoga group was told to keep a daily diary for personally analyzing their condition throughout the entire program. On comparing the accumulated data, it was concluded that yoga helps fight serious fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, poor memory, anxiety and poor balance. From the yoga group pain was reported by an average of 24 percent, fatigue by 30 percent and depression by 42 percent. The findings appear to be statistically as well as clinically significant.

The research will be published in the November 10 online edition of the journal Pain and was online on October 14.