ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis Hits Women Harder
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
CANCER
Low Vitamin D Levels May Initiate Cancer Development
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
CAREGIVING
High Rate of Rehospitalizations Costing Billions
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Health Tip: At Risk for Gingivitis
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
The Raw Food Diet
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
EYE CARE, VISION
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Nutrient-Rich Diet Lowers Risk of Age-Related Eye Disease
FITNESS
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
8 Drugs Doctors Would Never Take
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
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Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain

(HealthDay News) -- Practicing yoga can help ease chronic lower back pain, a new study shows.

Researchers divided 90 people, aged 23 to 66, who had mild to moderate functional disability as a result of back pain into two groups.

One group did 90-minute sessions of Iyengar yoga twice a week for six months. The other group continued whatever medical therapy or treatments they'd been doing.

At the three-month and six-month marks, a greater proportion of those who'd done yoga reported improvements in their pain and functioning as measured by questionnaires that asked about pain levels, difficulty performing physical tasks and pain medications being taken. Yoga participants also reported fewer symptoms of depression.

"The yoga group had less pain, less functional disability and less depression, compared with the control group," study author Kimberly Williams, a research assistant professor in the department of community medicine at West Virginia University, said in a statement. "These were statistically significant and clinically important changes that were maintained six months after the intervention."

The study is published in the September issue of Spine.

Iyengar yoga, a form of hatha yoga that's popular in the United States, builds strength, flexibility and balance by taking participants through a series of specific poses.

Dr. Todd J. Albert, chairman of the department of orthopedics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, said the study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was well-designed.

"I have found yoga and Pilates are great for chronic low back pain," Albert said. "There is so much concentration on core strengthening, which is critical for people who have been de-conditioned."

Lower back pain can cause people to stop exercising because of discomfort or fear of causing further injury to their back. The lack of activity can cause the back muscles to become "de-conditioned," or weakened, setting up conditions for even more chronic pain.

Exercises such as yoga help reverse the muscle weakness by strengthening muscles of the mid-section, including the back extensors, abdominals and gluteus, which are key for stabilizing the trunk and decreasing the load on the spine.

"Strengthening those muscles is like creating a brace around your torso," Albert explained.

Lower back pain represents between 20 percent and 25 percent of medical claims and exceeds $34 billion in annual direct medical costs, according to background information in the study.

Mary Lou Galantino, a professor of physical therapy at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, said the study confirms previous research about the benefits of yoga for helping with conditions as varied as menopause and osteoarthritis. Other research has shown that yoga can improve mood in women with breast cancer.

"There is so much data excitingly pointing to the physical, psychological and spiritual benefits of yoga," Galantino said. "I also believe there's a social aspect to yoga. It can foster a sense of community and overarching well-being."

Though strengthening the back is important, so are the spiritual and psychological aspects of yoga, including meditation and deep breathing, Galantino said.

"In order to have a holistic approach to one's well being, you want to get to the physical, the psychological, the emotional and the spiritual," said Galantino, a yoga instructor. "That is integrated care. If done with proper breathing, postures and meditation, yoga does all of that. You have to have all of the elements. If we westernize it and make it solely an athletic program, then you may not receive all of the benefits."

Though there are many causes of lower back pain, the culprit is often a herniated disc or arthritis. Though people suffering from back pain may worry that exercise could make the pain worse, it's not likely to as long as you don't overdo it, Albert said.

SOURCES: Todd J. Albert, M.D., chairman, department of orthopedics, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals and the Rothman Institute, Philadephia; Mary Lou Galantino, PT, Ph.D., professor, physical therapy, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; September 2009 Spine.