Many people endlessly treat themselves with medications for their low-back pain. A team of US researchers has found mindfulness meditation as an effective alternative that may help reduce chronic low-back pain.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBRS) involved training in observing, acknowledging and accepting thoughts and feelings including pain. The training also includes some easy yoga poses to help participants become more aware of their bodies.
"The results were encouraging and we're constantly looking for new and innovative ways to help our patients," said study author Daniel Cherkin from Group Health Research Institute in the US.
"The research suggests that training the brain to respond differently to pain signals may be more effective -- and last longer -- than traditional physical therapy and medication," Cherkin added in the paper published in the journal JAMA.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a kind of talk therapy that helped people reframe how they think about their pain, so that they can manage it more successfully and change their behaviours.
Researchers compared MBSR along with CBT to see if these interventions might ease pain. The study enrolled 342 participants aged 20 to 70 with low-back pain that had lasted at least three months and could not be attributed to a specific cause.
The participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. One of these groups received training in MBSR and the other in CBT. The third group received only their usual care.
Training in MBSR led to meaningful improvements in functioning and chronic low-back pain at six months.
The results showed that compared to the group receiving usual care, participants in both the MBSR and CBT groups were significantly more likely to experience clinically meaningful (at least 30 percent) improvements.
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"We found that these approaches were as helpful for people with chronic back pain as are other effective treatments for back pain. They also had longer-lasting benefits and were safer than many other treatment options," the authors said.