Mindfulness may help ease low back pain

The reality is this - opioids have side effects are people are looking for alternative pain management strategies. The difficulty with pain management is that it is not a one size fits all, what works for one person may not work for another, so it is important to try different approaches. In the past one the primary management strategies was a pharmacological approach, but over time some of these treatments evolve into a health care crisis of their own. Earlier in the year The Center for Disease Control expressed the need to move beyond a pharmacological approaches for symptom management and a called for the use of a number of non-pharmacological approaches. 


John Oliver discusses issues around the use of opioid for pain management



Mindfulness meditation and pain

First off let me preface this by stating that patients should consult with their doctors about both pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches to help manage their pain. Mindfulness is not a panacea, it is an option for patients who are willing to explore non-pharmacological options for pain management. A recent paper published in JAMA supports the idea that simple mindful actives may help people manage their pain. 

Mindfulness meditation is a practice premised on directing nonjudgmental attention to arising sensory events, this reduces pain by distracting the mind from the pain sensations. There are many different ways that people can practice mindfulness mediation, on of the most common ways are through yoga classes, meditation classes, exercise and even mindful coloring. The practice of mindfulness has been around for a long time, but the practice has not received much scientific attention. It is my hope that researchers will continue to look into the practice of mindful activities and we can maximize the effects of mindfulness meditation for those who are in pain.

More to Explore

Cherkin, D. C., Sherman, K. J., Balderson, B. H., Cook, A. J., Anderson, M. L., Hawkes, R. J., . . . Turner, J. A. (2016). Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Usual Care on Back Pain and Functional Limitations in Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain. JAMA.

Frieden, T. R., & Houry, D. (2016). Reducing the Risks of Relief — The CDC Opioid-Prescribing Guideline. New England Journal of Medicine.

Sharon, H., Maron-Katz, A., Simon, E. B., Flusser, Y., Hendler, T., Tarrasch, R., & Brill, S. (2016). Mindfulness Meditation Modulates Pain Through Endogenous Opioids. The American Journal of Medicine.

Zeidan, F., & Vago, D. R. (2016). Mindfulness meditation-based pain relief: A mechanistic account. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.