Participants in an eight-week mindfulness-based reduction study reported improvements in levels of pain, depression and disability.
The small-scale study, performed by the American Osteopathic Association, had participants with chronic pain and depression receive intensive instruction in mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga. Following the course, the subjects' Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, which measure depression, dropped by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale. In addition, 89% of the participants reported that the program helped them better cope with their pain, while 11% remained neutral.
"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.
"The bottom line is that patients are seeking new ways to cope with chronic pain and effective non-pharmaceutical treatments are available," continues Dr. Marske. "Our findings show meditation and yoga can be a viable option for people seeking relief from chronic pain."