MSK Aggravations to Sun Salutations - Managing Chronic MSK Pain with Yoga Therapy. A Qualitative Systematic Review


This was a modified systematic review that was undertaken as a dissertation module for part of an MSc in Physiotherapy. The primary author has a special interest in using yoga therapy within physiotherapy being both a Physiotherapist and yoga teacher and wanted to contribute to the existing research. The aim was to gain a wider understanding of the experiences and perspectives of yoga therapy to complement the existing qualitative findings and expand the knowledge and understanding of using yoga therapy to manage chronic MSK pain for future research and clinical application.


The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) methodology was used throughout to ensure scientific continuity and rigor as well as guidance from Braun and Clarke and academic tutors. A systematic search of the literature was undertaken with guidance from the University’s healthcare postgraduate librarian. The JBI Quality Assessment Review Instrument (QARI) Critical Appraisal Checklist for Interpretive and Critical Research was used to assess research quality by two independent reviewers. Results were compared and reviewed by the reviewers and decided if the paper was to be included. No disagreement occurred so a 3rd opinion was not needed. The JBI QARI Data Extraction Form for Interpretive and Critical Research tool was used for data extraction and to interpret the results, the JBI approach for meta synthesis was used.


Results: The results from the meta-synthesis were grouped into three main findings.

1. The Benefits of Yoga Therapy

For Patients: Physical, Mental, Coping Tool, Social For Staff: Patient satisfaction

1. The Motivators/Facilitators to Yoga Therapy

Motivators For Patients: Desire for Improved Physical Health, Desire for Improved Well-being, Social Motivation Facilitators For Patients: Mindset/Personality, Accurate Information For Staff: Low Cost/Funds, Class Environment, Clinical Drive, Adaptability, Scheduling

1. Barriers against Yoga Therapy

For Patients: Burden of Disease, Fear, Attitudes, Information For Staff: Clinical Structure, Finances, Time, Transport/Access

Conclusion(s): The overall opinion of patients and staff was that yoga therapy appears to be beneficial both physically and mentally for most patients in a clinical setting as a method for managing chronic MSK pain. Furthermore, yoga therapy can potentially provide a long-term self-management strategy for patients by teaching coping skills and methods to keep healthy and manage their symptoms. This can be achieved by continuing a yoga practice at home or by using yoga classes in the community. Future research is needed to develop the most effective yoga therapy interventions in practice and the structure of the service delivering them.

Cost and savings

No further information. 


This is the first qualitative systematic review of its kind providing new insights into the experiential views of patients and staff concerning the use of yoga therapy for chronic MSK pain management. The results from this review highlights the importance of further research in gathering more comprehensive, higher quality evidence for yoga therapy. These qualitative results can guide the redesign of future randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which would address the barriers identified by this review. Using a high-quality mixed-method approach, the RCTs could address the objectivity of a yoga therapy intervention, and the in-depth interviews would provide the subjective patient experience

Top three learning points

No further information.

Funding acknowledgements

This review was not funded.