Defined as pain lasting longer than six months, chronic pain isn’t always easily managed with medication or other conservative back treatments. One of the more unconventional approaches to chronic pain management is meditation, which focuses on training the mind to better deal with recurring discomfort.
Even Minimal Meditation Can Be Beneficial
A study of meditation and pain found that even short meditation sessions changed participants’ perception of pain. Recent research contradicts previous beliefs that the analgesic benefits of meditation only came with long-term practice of the technique. For patients living with chronic pain, it means:
- Shorter training sessions to learn basic concepts
- Increased flexibility with finding time for sessions
- Enjoying similar benefits from shorter sessions
Unlike other forms of distraction, such as getting involved in other activities or making a conscious effort to take your mind off your chronic pain, research indicates that meditation may produce longer-lasting effects. A study on the effectiveness of distraction techniques found that meditation was more effective when the duration of the pain relief experienced by participants was considered.
Additional Health Benefits
Meditation may produce related health benefits that could play a role in managing chronic pain. If you have conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure that may be contributing to your chronic pain, meditation could also help manage those conditions. According to one study, short-term benefits of meditation on the nervous system include:
- Improved circulation
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- Reduced stress and anxiety
Easy to Learn
After getting approval from your doctor, it’s fairly easy to learn the basics of meditation. There are many forms of meditation, with some involving mantras and the use of 0imagery and others simply involving breathing and relaxation techniques. Since meditation can literally be done anywhere, it’s easy enough to find a location that’s comfortable when you’re ready to get started.
Meditation is something you can conveniently do on your own time and at your own pace. However, alternative approaches to pain management aren’t meant to replace your current treatment plan. Instead, such practices should be viewed as an extension of your overall approach to managing chronic pain.
If conservative treatments fail to provide adequate relief, it might be time to schedule an in-person consultation with an experienced Los Angeles spine surgeon like Dr. Hyun Bae, Medical Director of The Spine Institute Center. Call (310) 828-7757 for more information.