Why Yoga Tends to Help Chronic Pain: Yoga for Chronic Pain

  • Stress is highly related to chronic pain and yoga has tools to address stress.
  • Yoga promotes changes in the nervous system that cause a reduction in the experience of chronic pain.

Addressing Stress

Doctors typically underestimate the role of stress in causing and worsening chronic pain, and they often don’t know how to advise stressed-out patients. Yoga not only regards addressing stress as essential, but has the tools to do it. – Timothy McCall, MD

Promotes Changes in the Nervous System

Movement that is novel, variable and demands focus and concentration can promote changes in the nervous system… that are required to reduce the pain experience. – Shelly Prosko

Effect on Brain

There is compelling evidence from studies conducted at NIH/NCCIH and other sites that mind-body techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can counteract the brain anatomy affects of chronic pain. “Practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as does chronic pain,” said Bushnell. She said the studies show yoga practitioners have more gray matter than controls in multiple brain regions, including those involved in pain modulation… “Brain anatomy changes may contribute to mood disorders and other affective and cognitive comorbidities of chronic pain. The encouraging news for people with chronic pain is mind-body practices seem to exert a protective effect on brain gray matter that counteracts the neuroanatomical effects of chronic pain,” Bushnell added. – American Pain Society