Yoga Can Treat Chronic Pain

Yoga can be helpful for people with chronic pain, just as it can be immensely helpful for people who are dealing with trauma. Chronic pain patients often suffer from trauma as well.

Chronic pain is processed differently by the brain than acute pain. Chronic pain, as opposed to acute pain, recruits areas of the brain that are responsible for emotions and thoughts. This is why many medications that work for acute pain fail to provide relief in chronic pain. With chronic pain, the body freezes with tension and the mind focuses exclusively on negative thoughts. We experience fear, stress, and helplessness.

An effective treatment for some people with chronic pain is to minimize anxiety and stress, and to focus on positive thoughts over negative thoughts. Yoga is just one technique that can be used to reduce pain by teaching the body to relax and helping the mind to focus on healthy thoughts. The exercise associated with yoga can be especially therapeutic for some musculoskeletal types of chronic pain.

Combining exercise with any cognitive technique, such as yoga, that reduces anxiety and stress can reduce pain. It can also improve the quality and duration of sleep.  Sleep deprivation or lack of deep sleep increases pain. Pain is a whole body experience, so therapeutic options like yoga, which addresses the whole body, can be very beneficial.


  1. I.Hollis on December 19, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Yoga is great with one caveat…anyone with Marfan’s or EDS, or Benign Hypermobility should probably not do yoga, or it should be strictly supervised so as not to over-extend the joints. This could cause more pain for a person with connective tissue disorders. Just because you can stretch doesn’t mean it’s always good!
    We live in an area where yoga is really encouraged, even by doctors, and there are many who have become severely injured from it.

    • Stacey Miller on December 20, 2015 at 9:25 am

      This is a good point and should remind us that no treatment works for everyone. We must individualize our treatments and find what works for each of us. Thanks for the comment.

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