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Grinberg: Yoga Said to Be as Effective as PT vs. Back Pain

By Gregory Grinberg

Thursday, June 29, 2017 | 656 | 0 | min read

Back in the ol’ law school days, your humble blogger heard the claim that yoga should be barred from public schools on the grounds that it was a form of Hindu worship, and the separation of church and state would mandate a separation of yoga and public school.

Whatever the merits of that particular claim, it appears that yoga has a widespread secular use as a form of exercise and health improvement.

Well, the news going around the internet nowadays is that there is yet another claim regarding yoga. One study has found yoga to be as effective for back pain as physical therapy. 

As one reader, KC, points out, the benefit to yoga as opposed to physical therapy is the psychological effect of social engagement: going to a yoga class with other people probably minimizes the feeling of isolation one has when going through a workers’ compensation case.

Speaking only from anecdotal evidence, which, unlike the whims and fancies of your humble blogger, do not make a good basis for statewide legislation, yoga seems to help with back pain. 

I’ve known several people who were motivated solely by the desire to relieve pain (and not by the pillage and plunder afforded by the workers’ compensation system), and regular Yoga classes helped the reach this goal, without the debilitating effects of opioids or the dangers of surgery.

Much like with medicinal marijuana, there doesn’t appear to be a framework, at this time, for the injured worker to receive yoga sessions at the employer’s expense by right of law.  However, if both the employee and the employer are willing to try it, perhaps it might be prudent to invest a few hundred dollars to see if improves an applicant’s pain and ability to return to work.

After all, despite the claims of some disgruntled participants in the workers’ compensation system, employers and insurers are not out to make the injured worker suffer, but are rational actors. If something is going to effectively reduce disability and return the applicant to the workforce, why not pursue it?

What do you think, dear readers? If physical therapy is proving ineffective, would you consider authorizing six sessions of yoga on a trial basis?

Gregory Grinberg is workers' compensation defense attorney at the Law Office of Gregory Grinberg, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. This post is reprinted with permission from Grinberg's WCDefenseCA blog.

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