Research finds yoga, mindfulness meditation reduce chronic pain
A mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course was found to benefit patients with chronic pain and depression, leading to significant improvement in participant perceptions of pain, mood, and functional capacity, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
The small-scale study was conducted in a semi-rural population in Oregon where issues of affordability, addiction and access to care are common. Participants received intensive instruction in mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga during an eight-week period.
Study participants received instruction in MBSR, a systematic educational program based on training people to have an awareness of the self in the present moment and a nonjudgmental manner.
Most of the study respondents, 89 percent, reported the program helped them find ways to better cope with their pain while 11 percent remained neutral, according to the study.
The study also 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, similar to effects of an antidepressant.
The findings bolster other evidence that MBSR can be a useful adjunctive treatment for chronic pain while improving perceived depression, according to Cynthia Marske, DO, an osteopathic physician and director of graduate medical education at the Community Health Clinics of Benton and Linn County.
"The bottom line is that patients are seeking new ways to cope with chronic pain and effective non-pharmaceutical treatments are available," says Dr. Marske. "Our findings show meditation and yoga can be a viable option for people seeking relief from chronic pain."