A regular program of meditation can improve your general health. A growing number of scientific studies have shown that meditation may help patients with a variety of conditions like: depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, and sleep difficulties. It has been suggested that meditation achieves these positive outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety. Since meditation is an easy and inexpensive form of treatment that can be done by anyone, at anytime, requiring no special equipment, and with no negative side effects, any potential benefit of meditation could have a large impact in public health.
But what about patients with chronic pain? Can meditation help those patients? Several small studies have suggested a positive effect of meditation in the treatment of chronic pain. A recent large study from Denmark, published in the journal Pain Medicine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25376753), looked at the effects of daily mediation on chronic pain. This was a controlled trial, meaning that the treatment group was compared with a non-treatment group. Researchers found out that, after 6 months, even though daily meditation had minimal effects on self-reported pain levels, it did have a significant effect in relieving anxiety and depression associated with pain and also in other areas, like: engaging in activities in spite of pain, feeling in control of pain, and psychological well being. So, it appears that meditation can help patient with chronic pain, and that the effects of meditation in chronic pain are in alignment with other observed health benefits. It probably works by relaxing patients, reducing their anxiety, and allowing them to ignore the pain in order to function normally. This may allow them to make other life style modifications which may result in additional positive effects: increased physical activity, increased social activity, decreased sense of isolation, etc.
Bottom line: Meditation can be useful as an addition to other forms of treatment as part of a comprehensive program for chronic pain patients. The fact that it is a simple, inexpensive form of treatment that can be done by anyone makes it particularly attractive.
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