Are people with osteoporosis at a risk of injuries from yoga?
Many people practise yoga and it is known to improve flexibility, strength and balance. It is also associated with better health outcomes and many healthcare professionals encourage you to take up yoga practice as it is considered safe for people at different levels of their health. But there have been reports of injuries from yoga ranging from mild muscle strains to fractures. This is a concern for patients with osteoporosis and osteopenia — conditions characterised by low bone density. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become thinner and more porous from loss of mineral content. It is called osteopenia when bone loss that has not reached the stage of an osteoporosis diagnosis.
The study also found that patients who took the recommendations to modify their exercise experienced reduced pain and they improved their symptoms.
Researchers investigated whether yoga causes injuries in people with osteoporosis and osteopenia and reviewed the medical records of 89 people, mostly women who were referred to the Mayo Clinic for experiencing pain which they associated with yoga practice. Some patients were new to yoga while others had practised for years. The patients had pain in the back, neck, shoulder, hip, knee or a combination of all. They identified 12 poses which they attributed to their symptoms. The researchers examined the patients’ health records, medical exams and imaging to confirm and categorise injuries into 3 groups: (1) soft tissue injury, (2) axial non-bony injury, and (3) bony injury. The patients underwent evaluation and were recommended to modify their exercises.
The researchers identified 29 bony injuries including disk degeneration, slippage of vertebrae and compression of fractures. The poses most commonly associated with the injuries involved flexing or extending the spine. The study also found that patients who took the recommendations to modify their exercise experienced reduced pain and they improved their symptoms.
Patients with osteoporosis and osteopenia are at risk of bony injuries due to yoga postures that flex or overextend the spine. It is recommended for them to modify the postures to accommodate their thinning bones. Healthcare professional must work together with yoga instructors to create individual yoga programs taking into consideration the medical history of the patients which will ensure that the risk of injuries is minimised and that they get optimal benefit from yoga practice.
Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings