Can meditation banish back pain?
A new research suggests that mindfulness meditation is able to provide pain relief to seniors sufferers from chronic lower back pain. Dr. Natalia Morone, lead author said,“mindfulness meditation is a method to learn how to be fully engaged in the present moment and not let the mind get so easily distracted.”
As patients practiced mindfulness meditation and tried to stay more focused on the present moment,“participants found they experienced less pain.” They also saw short-term benefits in physical function.
For the study, patients over the age 65 were enrolled on the basis of moderate back pain at least of three months that reduced their functioning. Side effects of drugs increase with age and it can lead to various health problems. Thus, many doctors and patients seek non-drug treatment alternatives in order to minimize and prevent pain. “There is no magic bullet for pain. The closest we have is time, as 75% of pain will get better within two months, and 90% within three months. But simply telling patients to be patient can be frustrating.” as per Dr. John Mafi, an assistant professor of medicine with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “So, although this is a small study, and the results are modest, it’s still a first of its kind. That’s exciting, because it offers some new movement in the realm of possible therapies. It’s definitely worthy of continued study with a larger group of patients,” added Mafi.
About half of the participants were assigned to engage in weekly 90-minute sessions of mindful meditation for 8 weeks. Sessions were centered on directed breathing and greater thought and sensation-awareness. Others participated in an 8-week aging education program that discussed issues such as blood pressure management and stretching, though not pain management specifically. At completion, both groups returned for six monthly booster sessions.
Both groups improved in terms of mobility but the mindfulness group improved significantly more. More than 80% among the mindfulness participants experienced ease of back pain and aging education program group reported only 37%. Similarly, the greater physical function improvements observed in the mindfulness group but both groups experienced reduction in improvements at the six-month mark.
Monroe suggested that a meditation program supplemented by excercise can result in greater improvement in physical function for longer period of time.