Yoga Therapy for Abdominal Pain

A recent study (JJ Korterink et al. JPGN 2016; 63: 481-7) showed that yoga treatment may be helpful with children (8-18 years) with functional abdominal pain.  The authors studied 69 subjects who received either standard medical care or standard care with yoga therapy.  Pain intensity was followed with a pain dairy as was quality of life with KIDSCREEN-27. Key finding: At 1 year follow-up, 58% of the yoga group had a treatment response compared to 29% in the control group.  Yoga therapy was associated with reduction in school absences as well as reduced abdominal pain.

While yoga is considered helpful in stress management and has been suggested as treatment for adults with irritable bowel, an associated editorial by Yvan Vanderplas (pg 451) notes that the scientific basis for yoga therapy remains weak. He notes that yoga trials are biased due to selection bias and the results are tainted due to lack of blinding with regard to the intervention.

My take: If families are interested in yoga therapy, this should be encouraged.  Yoga therapy is safer and at least as effective as many other therapies offered for abdominal pain.