Objectives: To assess the effects of a 9-week yoga intervention on chronic nonspecific neck pain 12 months after completion.
Design: Twelve-month follow-up of the pooled data of both arms of a randomized, controlled trial.
Setting: Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at an academic teaching hospital.
Subjects: Fifty-one patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain (mean age 47.8 years; 82.4% female).
Interventions: A 9-week yoga group intervention.
Outcome measures: Neck pain intensity (100-mm visual analog scale), functional disability (neck disability index), health-related quality of life (short-form 36 questionnaire, SF-36), generic disability (days with restricted activities), and global improvement.
Results: From baseline to 12-month follow-up, pain intensity improved from 48.81 ± 17.71 to 32.31 ± 20.68 (P < 0.001), neck-related disability decreased from 25.26 ± 9.02 to 19.49 ± 11.52 (P = 0.001), and bodily pain in the SF-36 improved from 49.37 ± 12.40 to 59.26 ± 17.57 (P = 0.005). Improvements in pain intensity were predicted by weekly minutes of yoga practice during the past 4 weeks (r(2) = 0.12, P = 0.028); improved neck-related disability (r(2) = 0.24, P = 0.001) and bodily pain (r(2) = 0.26, P = 0.006) were predicted by regular yoga practice during the past 12 months. Generic disability did not decrease significantly. Twenty-four patients (68.6%) rated their health as at least somewhat improved.
Conclusions: A 9-week yoga intervention improved pain and neck-related disability for at least 12 months after completion. Sustained yoga practice seems to be the most important predictor of long-term effectiveness.
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