A mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course was found to benefit patients with chronic pain and depression, leading to significant improvements in participants’ perceptions of pain, mood, and functional capacity, according to a study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Most of the study respondents (89 percent) reported that the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain, while 11 percent remained neutral.
Chronic pain is a common and serious medical condition affecting an estimated 100 million people in the United States, which corresponds to an annual cost of approximately $635 billion. A small-scale study was conducted in the semi-rural population of Oregon, where issues of affordability, addiction and access to care are common. During the eight-week period, the participants received intensive instruction in mindfulness meditation and mindfulness of hatha yoga.
The study has been published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Most of the study respondents (89 percent) reported that the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain, while 11 percent remained neutral.
Patients with chronic pain and depression have benefited from a mindfulness-based stress reduction course. The study found that leading to significant improvement in participant perceptions of pain, mood, and functional capacity, according to a study.
“Many people have lost hope because, in most cases, chronic pain will never be fully resolved,” says Cynthia Marske, DO, osteopathic physician and director of graduate medical education at the Benton and Linn County Community Health Clinics. “However, mindful yoga and meditation can help to improve the structure and function of the body that supports the healing process.”
Healing and curing are inherently different, explains Dr. Marske.
“Healing means eliminating disease, while healing means becoming more whole,” says Dr. Marske. “With chronic pain, healing involves learning to live with a level of pain that is manageable. Yoga and meditation can be very beneficial for this.”
Although yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of depression and help treat chronic pain, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment without the advice of a physician or a licensed mental health professional. Chronic pain can be reduced by practicing yoga and meditation, according to a new study by the American Osteopathic Association. Individuals trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) reported significantly lower levels of pain, depression, and disability.
The study found that mindful meditation and yoga led to significant improvements in patients’ perceptions of pain, depression and disability. Following the course, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, a standard measure of depression, decreased by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale. According to Dr. Marske, some patients experience a similar drop in antidepressant use.
“Chronic pain often goes hand in hand with depression,” says Dr. Marske. “Mindfulness-based meditation and yoga can help restore both the mental and physical health of the patient and can be effective on its own or in combination with other treatments such as therapy and medication.”
Training has led to significant improvements in participants’ perceptions of pain, mood and functional capacity. Nearly 90% of the volunteers reported that the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain. Participants in the study received instruction in MBSR, a systematic education program based on training people to become self-conscious at the present time and in a non-judgmental manner. The findings reinforce further evidence that MBSR can be a useful adjunctive to chronic pain while improving perceived depression.
“The bottom line is that patients are looking for new ways to cope with chronic pain and effective non-pharmaceutical treatment,” says Dr. Marske. “Our findings show that meditation and yoga can be a viable option for people seeking relief from chronic pain.”
Due to the complexity of many chronic pain conditions, people who would like to try yoga or meditation to help cope with their chronic pain might consider finding a class that would be sensitive to their condition, or work with a yoga therapist or a doctor or mental-health professional who is trained in yoga. This would allow increased benefit of the practice while minimizing some of the risks that could come with just popping into your local yoga or meditation class.