Meditate And Lessen Back Pain


Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective way to alleviate chronic low-back pain, according to a new study.

This new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found 342 people with chronic low-back pain felt better, without the use of drugs, after 26 and 52 weeks by using these stress-reduction techniques. 

“The results from this research affirm that non-drug/non-opioid therapies, such as meditation, can help manage chronic low-back pain," said Josephine Briggs, M.D., director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), which funded the study. 

Pain Research

The study involved 342 participants aged 20-70, who either used MBSR or CBT, or usual care for one year. Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D., a senior scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute, Seattle was the lead researcher. 

After 26 and 52 weeks, participants who used the MBSR or CBT methods showed a greater improvement in function and back pain compared to the group using standard care.

Additionally, while the CBT group didn't see improvement after 26 weeks, participants who used MBSR continued seeing improvement after 52 weeks. However, the study found pain intensity and some mental health measures improved in both groups.

Practicing MBSR and CBT 

While the elements of mindfulness meditation and yoga are merged in MBSR, psychotherapy is a form of CBT, which trains individuals to modify specific thoughts and behaviors.

Participants in the study used these two methods attend a two-hour group session each week for eight weeks, based on their approach. The participants added to their treatments with workbooks and CDs for practice at home.  

“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 Briggs.

Source: National Institutes of Health

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