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Is Meditation a Solution for Chronic Pain?

It Really Can be Mind Over Matter…

A recent publication by the CDC recommends that doctors vier away from the use of opioid based pain killers for chronic pain. While this may sounds like a common sense approach, doctors just love to prescribe pain killers to mask the problems – not solve them.

The science behind some ancient techniques is slowing emerging in the fields of Yoga and Meditation.

This latest study, published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, assessed the value of mindfulness-based stress reduction, a program developed at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1970s, and cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy that helps reframe negative thoughts and is considered an evidence-based treatment for chronic pain.

The 342 participants, most of whom had suffered back pain weekly for at least the past year, were offered either eight weekly sessions of mindfulness training; eight sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy; or to keep doing what they’d been doing.

Of those who did the mindfulness training, which included meditation and yoga instruction and CDs they could use at home, 43.6 percent reported a meaningful reduction in pain 26 weeks later. In the cognitive behavioral therapy group, 44.9 percent reported significant improvements. That’s compared to 26.6 percent in the usual care group. And despite the fact that most people didn’t attend all eight sessions of the programs.

“I’ve been doing research on back pain for 30 years,” says Daniel Cherkin, a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle and lead author of the study. “The biggest revolution has been the understanding that it’s not just a physical problem with physical solutions. It’s a biopsychosocial problem.”

Think twice before popping some pain killers for that back pain. Try some healthy stretching instead. Did you know that some cultures don’t have back pain? Read The Secret to Relieving Back Pain