Meditation and breathing reduce chronic pain

Meditation and mindful breathing helped patients manage chronic pain and, in some cases, reduced the need for medications such as opioids, according to a study conducted at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York.

The research titled “Complementary Practices as Alternatives to Pain: Effectiveness of a Pain Management Program for Clinical Orthopedic Patients” was presented at the October 24 annual meeting in Chicago of the American College of Rheumatology and the Association of Health Professionals in Rheumatology.

Opioid addiction and dependence is a major public health problem in the United States, and about 70% of people who use it long-term experience musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain or arthritis. , said Maggie Wimmer, program and results coordinator.

To deal with this epidemic, the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York has implemented a pain and stress management program in its orthopedic clinic to improve patient knowledge and encourage complementary practices such as alternatives to drugs.

HSS launched the pilot program in March 2017 for patients in the hospital’s outpatient center living with chronic musculoskeletal conditions. The 122 participants in the program attended a monthly workshop led by a meditation instructor as well as a weekly meditation teleconference. Participants used mindful breathing and meditation techniques to manage chronic pain and stress.

50% of participants reported less pain with meditation

To evaluate the program, researchers interviewed participants after each monthly meeting. Data was collected to assess the effectiveness of the program.

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The researchers reported the following:

  • 98% strongly agreed/agreed that they were satisfied with the program.
  • 95% said the program increased their understanding of complementary treatments and their ability to apply pain and stress management techniques.
  • 93% said they would recommend the program to others.
  • One in three participants said they had used the alternative techniques five or more times in the previous week instead of medication, and 11% had used the techniques three to four times instead of medication.
  • More than half of the participants indicated that mindful breathing helped them manage their chronic pain and stress.

Meditation and conscious breathing reduce pain and stress

Reports also revealed that in addition to a reduction in pain and stress, many participants showed an improvement in their daily functions, calmness and state of mind after using the techniques.

“The results indicate that the alternative approaches are effective in reducing pain and stress, as well as improving self-management and general well-being,” said Robyn Wiesel, director of HSS.


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