Why is Yoga Therapy the Preferred Choice for Spine Rehabilitation?
By 2020, trauma is expected to be the third largest killer in the developing countries and most of this trauma occurs due to a spinal injury.
Falls and road traffic accidents are the main causes of spinal injuries. According to the WHO, India has the highest number of deaths due to road traffic accidents, with the figure standing at 375 per day. Nearly 1200 injuries per day occur due to road accidents in India and most of these affect the brain and spine. Apart from this, spine injury may occur due to bad posture, falls, physical assaults, illnesses like polio or spina bifida, industrial accidents etc.
Whatever the reasons may be, spine injury can be extremely painful and may require surgical treatment and post-surgical spine rehabilitation or just rehabilitation.
What is Spine Rehabilitation?
Spine rehabilitation is the process of helping patients to recover quickly and efficiently after a spinal injury. Major Spinal injury can be corrected by surgery but the post-operative pain and trauma can be alleviated only by spine rehabilitation.
Nowadays, physicians are suggesting the use of alternative medicine as a mode of supplementary treatment for spine rehabilitation. Of the various forms of alternative medicine, Yoga therapy is found to be the most effective in achieving spine rehabilitation.
Yoga & Spine Rehabilitation
Yoga is an ancient Indian healing discipline that combines physical and mental practice. Yoga therapy aims at achieving both physical and mental well-being through a system of exercises. The Yogic methodology includes breath control, and several body poses and exercises called asanas which bring substantial pain relief recondition the spine.
Most patients with sciatica or back pain may recover within 6-8 weeks of rehabilitation and even return to work. Many patients who have undergone surgery report pain and this is called “failed back syndrome”. For all such cases, Yoga therapy has been found to be particularly useful in reducing pain and improving the quality of their lives.
Proof that Yoga is Effective for Spine Rehabilitation
In 2011, Tillbrook and team conducted random testing in which 313 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain. The patients were divided into 2 groups – one with usual care and the others with yoga intervention on a 12 class program for 4 months. On assessing their core through the Roland -Morris disability questionnaire, the Yoga group showed greater pain-tolerance and back function within 3, 6 and 12 months.
On researching the databases of various sources like Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, the Clinical Trial Registry of the Indian Council of Medical Research etc, 5 studies involving 570 patients were found which revealed that Iyengar Yoga is effective in controlling back and neck pain in their control groups.
All of the above studies merely confirm the efficiency of Yoga in easing spine rehabilitation.
How Does Yoga Help in Spine Rehabilitation?
Yoga presents a holistic approach toward spine rehabilitation by not addressing the injury alone but attending to its side-effects as well. The efficacy of yoga in spine rehabilitation is revealed by its following benefits.
- After a spinal cord injury, most patients are confined to bed and are forced to adopt a sedentary lifestyle which causes muscular degeneration. Yoga induces flexibility and adds strength to the muscles through it yogic postures called asanas.
- Spinal cord injuries are often accompanied by not only trauma and bleeding but also by nerve damage. Yoga stimulates the neurotransmitters and the neural pathways through mindful concentration and yogic exercises.
- Oxygen-deprivation to the damaged cells is another aftermath of a spinal injury. Yoga promotes better breathing, oxygen intake and circulation through breathing exercises like Pranayama.
- By integrating breathing exercises like Pranayama into yogic postures or asanas, Yoga helps in achieving better body balance, weight management and regulation of muscular contraction and relaxation. All these are absolutely essential for spine rehabilitation.
- Patients with spine injuries often suffer from bladder, bowel or sexual dysfunctions. Yoga helps to regulate and correct these organ dysfunctions through breath awareness and bellow-breathing.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder( PTSD) is a consequence of spine injury. Anxiety, depression and stress accompany trauma after a spine injury. Yoga helps to relax the mind, calm the nerves and alleviate pain. Yoga Nidra stimulates the release of the happiness hormone – dopamine which keeps patient cheerful and motivated. Pranayama has been found to lower anxiety and depression level in patients.
A comprehensive Yoga module comprising of stretching and loosening exercises, asanas, Pranayama, and meditation is found to be the best and most ideal for spine rehabilitation.
Swift spine rehabilitation is crucial after surgery for spinal injuries. The success of spine rehabilitation lies mainly in the inclusion of Yoga as a healing technique.
Yoga is a holistic healing technique that offers tremendous relief and terrific results for spine rehabilitation provided it is offered by experts and experienced and trained professionals with knowledge of anatomy and physiology.