Is yoga effective for pain? A systematic review of randomized clinical trials

Complement Ther Med. 2011 Oct;19(5):281-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2011.07.004. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Objective: The objective of this systematic review was to assess the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment option for any type of pain.

Method: Seven databases were searched from their inception to February 2011. Randomized clinical trials were considered if they investigated yoga in patients with any type of pain and if they assessed pain as a primary outcome measure. The 5-point Jadad scale was used to assess methodological quality of studies. The selection of studies, data extraction and quality assessment were performed independently by two reviewers.

Results: Ten randomized clinical trials (RCTs) met the inclusion criteria. Their methodological quality ranged between 1 and 4 on the Jadad scale. Nine RCTs suggested that yoga leads to a significantly greater reduction in pain than various control interventions such as standard care, self care, therapeutic exercises, relaxing yoga, touch and manipulation, or no intervention. One RCT failed to provide between group differences in pain scores.

Conclusions: It is concluded that yoga has the potential for alleviating pain. However, definitive judgments are not possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga*