Meditation And Yoga May Help To Reduce Chronic Pain
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association a mindfulness-based stress reduction course was found to be of benefit to patients with chronic pain and depression, leading to improvements in perceptions of pain, mood and functional capacity. v
Within America, an estimated 100 million people are affected by chronic pain with annual costs of around $635 billion. Participants in this study received intensive instruction in mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga during an 8 week period; 89% of the participants in this study reported that the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain while 11% remained neutral.
“Many people have lost hope because, in most cases, chronic pain will never fully resolve,” says Cynthia Marske, DO, an osteopathic physician and director of graduate medical education at the Community Health Clinics of Benton and Linn County. “However, mindful yoga and meditation can help improve the structure and function of the body, which supports the process of healing.”
“Curing means eliminating disease, while healing refers to becoming more whole,” Dr. Marske says. “With chronic pain, healing involves learning to live with a level of pain this is manageable. For this, yoga and meditation can be very beneficial.”
Mindful meditation and yoga were found to have led to significant improvements in perceptions of pain, depression, and disability. After the course, PHQ-9 scores, which are a standard measurement of depression decreased by 3.7 points on a 27 point scale, according to Dr. Marske who adds that some patients experience similar with the use of an antidepressant.
“Chronic pain often goes hand-in-hand with depression,” says Dr. Marske. “Mindfulness-based meditation and yoga can help restore both a patient’s mental and physical health and can be effective alone or in combination with other treatments such as therapy and medication.”
Instruction was given to the participants in MBSR which is an educational program based on training people to have an awareness of self in the present in a nonjudgmental manner; findings support other evidence of MBSR as being a useful adjunctive treatment for chronic pain while improving perceived depression.
“The bottom line is that patients are seeking new ways to cope with chronic pain and effective non-pharmaceutical treatments are available,” says Dr. Marske. “Our findings show meditation and yoga can be a viable option for people seeking relief from chronic pain.”