An estimated 100 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, a serious medical condition with annual costs of approximately $635 billion. There are many issues when it comes to treatment like affordability and accessibility, but recent research has shown there may be a cost effective and easy-to-follow program people can do to better cope with their pain.
Participants in this research study joined an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course where they did activities like mindful meditation and yoga. At the end of the course, the patients’ perception of pain, depression, and disability were significantly improved.
Read more about the study below:
“‘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.’
Healing and curing are inherently different, explains Dr. Marske.
‘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.’
The study found mindful meditation and yoga led to significant improvements in patients’ perceptions of pain, depression and disability. Following the course, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, a standard measure of depression, dropped by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale. According to Dr. Marske, some patients experience a similar drop from 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.'”
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