Last year, 35 million sick days were taken for musculoskeletal problems - most commonly for back and neck pain.
Most of us will experience back or neck pain at some point in our lives. But, for millions, that pain can persist for months and even years.
Now experts from the University of York and Hull Medical School claim that specialist yoga classes could help reduce the number of sick days taken by people suffering from debilitating chronic pain - a reduction that could save the NHS up to £1.37 billion a year.
The team compared the results of a 12-week yoga programme with conventional GP care and found that those taking part in the yoga classes took significantly less sick days than those following the traditional healthcare route.
On average, the GP group took 12 sick days for back pain, whereas the yoga group only took four.
The cost associated with taking time off was £827 less for those participating in yoga.
Chief Investigator Professor David Torgerson, said: "Back pain represents a significant burden to the NHS in the UK and to society as a whole. As well as the associated health care costs, it is also a major cause of work absenteeism which leads to a productivity loss to society."
Although the health benefits of yoga have long been recognised by the scientific community, this is the first study to analyse the possible cost benefits to the NHS.
The research group concluded that 12 weekly yoga classes could prove a cost-effective alternative to typical Western healthcare for chronic or recurrent low back pain.
Yoga can help boost the confidence of those living in pain, while addressing joint mobility, muscle-strengthening, relaxation, postural awareness and mental attitude.
To find out more, please visit our Yoga page.
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