Yoga may help treat orthopedic problems

With the costs of medical care spiraling out of control and an ever-growing shortage of doctors to treat an aging population, it pays to know about methods of prevention and treatment for orthopedic problems that are low-cost and rely almost entirely on self-care. As certain methods of alternative medicine are shown to have real value, some mainstream doctors who “think outside the box” have begun to incorporate them into their practices.

One of them is Loren Fishman, a physiatrist — a specialist in physical and rehabilitative medicine affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital. Some in the medical profession would consider Fishman a renegade, but to many of his patients he’s a miracle worker who treats their various orthopedic disorders without the drugs, surgery or endless months of physical therapy most doctors recommend.

Many years ago, I wrote about Fishman’s nonsurgical treatment of piriformis syndrome, crippling pain in the lower back or leg caused by a muscle spasm in the buttocks that entraps the sciatic nerve. The condition is often misdiagnosed as a back problem, and patients frequently undergo surgery or lengthy physical therapy without relief.

Fishman developed a simple diagnostic technique for piriformis syndrome and showed that an injection into the muscle to break up the spasm, sometimes followed by yoga exercises or brief physical therapy, relieves the pain in an overwhelming majority of cases.

Nowadays yoga exercises form a centerpiece of his practice. Fishman, a lifelong devotee of yoga who studied it for three years in India before going to medical school, uses various yoga positions to help prevent, treat and, he says, halt and often reverse conditions like shoulder injuries, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and scoliosis. I rarely devote this column to one doctor’s approach to treatment, and I’m not presenting his approach as a cure-all. But I do think it has value. And he has written several well-illustrated books that can be helpful if used in combination with proper medical diagnosis and guidance.

For many years, yoga teachers and enthusiasts have touted the benefits to the body of this ancient practice, but it is the rare physician who both endorses it and documents its value in clinical tests. Fishman has done both.


Continue Reading at

Category : Blog &Yoga Posted on January 3, 2012

Leave a Reply