Study Finds Mindful Meditation Offers Relief for Low-Back Pain

Low-back pain is a common problem among lower-limb amputees, particularly those who have above-knee amputations. According to a new study, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may prove more effective than the standard treatment in alleviating chronic low-back pain. MBSR brings together elements of mindfulness meditation and yoga, whereas CBT is a form of psychotherapy that trains individuals to modify specific thoughts and behaviors. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The 342 study participants, ages 20 to 70, used one of the two mind and body approaches or sought usual care for one year. At 26 and 52 weeks, participants using MBSR and CBT had greater improvement in function and back pain compared to the group that remained in standard care. Though pain intensity and some mental health measures improved in both groups, those using CBT did not see improvement beyond 26 weeks. Those using MBSR continued to see improvement at 52 weeks, leading researchers to conclude that MBSR may be an effective treatment for chronic low-back pain.

“It is vital that we identify effective non-pharmacological treatment options for 25 million people who suffer from daily pain in the United States,” said Josephine Briggs, MD, director of NCCIH. “The results from this research affirm that non-drug/non-opioid therapies, such as meditation, can help manage chronic low-back pain.”

This article was adapted from information provided by NIH.

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