Ten RCTs (967 patients) were included in the review. Eight RCTs provided data for the meta-analysis. Eight trials had low risk of bias and two had high risk of bias.
Short-term results: Yoga reduced pain when compared to control (SMD -0.48, 95% CI -0.65 to -0.31; Ι²=0%; six RCTs) and to back-specific disability (SMD -0.59, 95% CI -0.87 to -0.30; Ι²=59%; eight RCTs). Yoga did not improve quality of life compared with controls (SMD -0.41, 95% CI -0.11 to 0.93; Ι²=72%; four RCTs). Global improvement was greater in the yoga group (RR 3.27, 95% CI 1.89 to 5.66; Ι²=0%; two RCTs).
Long-term results: Yoga reduced pain when compared to control (SMD -0.33, 95% CI -0.59 to -0.07; Ι²=48%; five RCTs) and also back-specific disability (SMD -0.35, 95% CI -0.55 to -0.15; Ι²=20%; five RCTs). Yoga did not improve quality of life compared with controls (SMD -0.18, 95% CI -0.05 to 0.41; Ι²=0%; two RCTs).
Subgroup analyses demonstrated statistically significant improvements when yoga was compared to education but not when yoga was compared to exercise (two RCTs) or usual care (two RCTs).
Most of the reported adverse events were mild to moderate (three RCTs).