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Meditation may help reduce back pain, study says

March 30, 2016

Bethesda, MD – Do you feel pain in your lower back? Try meditating.

A recent study suggests that a mind-and-body approach may be more effective than standard care for alleviating chronic lower-back pain. The study was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers analyzed 342 participants who ranged in age from 20 to 70. The group that took part in mindfulness-based stress reduction – a combination of mindfulness meditation and yoga – experienced less lower-back pain and more physical function after both 26 weeks and 52 weeks than the group that remained in standard care. Participants in the mindfulness-based stress reduction group attended a two-hour class once a week for eight weeks, and they used workbooks and CDs to maintain their treatment at home.

The findings may help individuals who suffer from lower-back pain to treat their condition without relying on prescription painkillers, which may become addictive.

“It is vital that we identify effective non-pharmacological treatment options for 25 million people who suffer from daily pain in the United States,” NCCIH Director Josephine Briggs said in a press release. “The results from this research affirm that non-drug/non-opioid therapies, such as meditation, can help manage chronic low-back pain. Physicians and their patients can use this information to inform treatment decisions.”

The study was published March 22 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.