Silencing the Cycle of Pain

Lifestyle measures to control pain show surprising effectiveness
November 9, 2020 Updated: November 9, 2020

Chronic pain is a cycle affecting an estimated 100 million Americans. It can vary from soreness in the lower back to mental suffering.

Pain and depression go hand in hand. They feed off of each other, making it hard to escape the cycle. This can be destructive on several fronts, leading to high medical costs and potential addiction.

Access to effective, sustainable care can also be a problem. However, a new study shows a useful, affordable, safe, and effective coping mechanism for pain and mood: mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR.

Participants in semi-rural Oregon experiencing issues with affordability and access to care received intensive instruction on mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga for eight weeks.

It worked.

Most participants, 89 percent of them, in fact, reported that the program helped them find better ways to cope with pain. Pain relief, mood, and functional capacity were all improved during the instruction period. Participants were given the tools to continue treatment at home.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Yoga and mindfulness can be taught virtually and practiced by anybody, anywhere. There is other work suggesting these practices can aid pain management and offer effective coping mechanisms.

These lifestyle measures may help combat chronic pain in a few ways. The first is outlook. Mindfulness meditation may promote a sense of calm and clarity that can relieve stress. Stress and depression may exacerbate physical pain, so the calming effects of mindfulness may help.

Plenty of data suggests yoga may improve pain and functionality. The meditative stretching helps loosen muscles and familiarizes various positions to make the body more fluid and adaptable.

Managing chronic pain is about getting a handle on physical and mental health. Meditation and yoga can work together to potentially improve your mood and general outlook, helping to quell the pain in the process.

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a juris doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.