Mindfulness meditation may be able to ease symptoms of those in chronic pain according to a new review. Image: IStock/PeopleImages via AFP
Mindfulness may be effective treatment for chronic pain sufferers
AFP Relaxnews / 01:23 PM February 01, 2019
New Canadian research has found that mindfulness meditation may be effective in easing chronic pain as well as its associated symptoms.
Led by researchers at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the new review looked at 21 clinical trials involving nearly 2,000 people to assess the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on chronic pain, which is defined as pain lasting at least three months. Participants were aged between 35 and 65, mainly women, with some living with chronic pain for over a decade.
CBT is currently the most widely used psychological technique for the treatment of chronic pain, although not everyone living with chronic pain finds the technique helpful, note the researchers.
Mindfulness meditation, which has grown in popularity in recent years for a number of conditions, is a type of meditation which helps promote stress relief by encouraging individuals to focus on being in the moment, paying attention to their thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the immediate environment.
The findings, published online in the journal Evidence Based Mental Health, showed that there were no important differences between using either CBT or mindfulness, with the researchers finding that both significantly reduced the severity of pain, improved physical functioning, and also improved depression associated with chronic pain, when compared with usual or no care.
The researchers did advise caution when interpreting the results, saying that only one of the 21 trials directly compared CBT with mindfulness, only 12 trials were deemed to be of reasonable or good quality, and that it is still too early to tell whether CBT or mindfulness is better for people with different types of pain and psychological symptoms.
They suggest further research in this area, but conclude that, “While CBT is considered to be the preferred psychological intervention of [chronic pain], not all patients with [it] experience a clinically significant treatment response.”
“Although a number of recommendations have been proposed to improve CBT for patients with chronic pain, an additional solution may be to offer patients mindfulness based stress reduction since it shows promise in improving pain severity and reducing pain interference and psychological distress.” CC