Treatment for chronic pain is often not cut-and-dry. Sometimes the reasons for the pain are unknown and it may take many different types of treatments for you to finally get some relief. Chronic pain is said affect roughly 100 million adults in the United States and to cost $560 to $635 billion annually.
With so many people looking for help with management of their chronic pain, it’s time to consider a new approach. Meditation. Meditation is a legitimate treatment option, but it often gets a bad rap, considered to be ‘new age’ and ‘hippie.’ In reality, meditation has been studied by scientists and results have shown that meditation is an effective way to treat chronic pain.
This article on the clinical use of meditation for regulation of chronic pain studied 90 patients with chronic pain. In a 10-week stress and relaxation program, patients were asked to measure their pain, anxiety and depression. At the end of the program, patients were able to decrease the use of drugs for chronic pain, and their activity and self-esteem levels increased.
There are other physical benefits of meditation that have been studied, including:
-Improvements to the immune system
-Lowers blood pressure
-Reduction in anxiety attacks
-Reduction in tension headaches, muscle and joint problems
-Serotonin increase improving mood and behavior
Now that we have established that meditation is a valid treatment option, you may be asking how to start. There are many different resources available online for free, and there are also classes and programs available if you would prefer in-person training. Check out this free guided meditation link http://www.chopra.com/ccl/guided-meditations if you are looking for free resources online.
If you decided to start, remember that all that matters is you set aside some portion of time everyday to practice, be that a few minutes or more than 20, as long as you try to incorporate something everyday. When you begin practice you will find it difficult to quiet the constant stream of thoughts inside your head, and that’s OK! Keep practicing and over time it will become easier to keep your mind quiet. Guided meditation may make it easier to keep focused.
We will leave you with this quote from Peter Abaci in his article called A Radical Shift to Better Pain Relief
“Focusing the mind through meditation alters the brain’s structure and function, leading to increased activity in the prefrontal cortex and quieting the amygdala. Changing thinking patterns in the brain associated with chronic pain ultimately leads to behavioral and experiential changes that can help restore well-being and fulfillment with life.”
The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation for chronic pain, Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, Burney, Jornal of Behavioral Medidical, June 1985.
A Radical Shift to Better Pain Relief, Peter Abaci, M.D., 12/5/12