Is mindfulness effective with chronic pain? Many practitioners asked this question in a recent survey. They also wanted to know how they could convince their skeptical clients to give mindfulness a try.
The connection between mindfulness and healing emotional pain, like stress or anxiety, may make more sense to your patients. But physical pain? That’s a big leap. Dr. Natalia Morone and a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburg addresses both patient compliance and chronic pain in a study published in the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.
The study looks at the feasibility of older adults maintaining a meditation practice as well as it’s effectiveness with chronic back pain. The average age of participants in this study was 75.
In a randomized controlled study to see whether an eight-session mindfulness meditation program had any effect on the patient, researchers used baseline, 8-week and 3-month follow-up measures to asses pain, physical function, attention and quality of life.
Compared to the control group, the intervention group displayed significant improvement in the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire, Activities Engagement and Physical Function. In addition, two of the participants in the trial stopped using their canes by the end of the 8-week program.
What about compliance? Average class attendance for the intervention group was 6.7 out of 8 – a good showing. The older adults meditated an average of 4.3 days a week for an average of 31.6 minutes per day.
This study, the first of it’s kind with older adults, shows us that a mindfulness-based practice can help relieve chronic pain, and equally as important, that it’s possible to get an older population on board. According to the National Pain Foundation, 73% to 80% of the entire elderly population have reported various chronic pain symptoms from arthritis to osteoporosis. So how can you convince a reluctant patient with chronic pain to follow a practice you know can help them?
This is a important question, one we address in some of our mindfulness courses.
In this series, we look at mindfulness and how it affects the brain – and most importantly – how you can use it in a clinical setting.