MBSR Helps Variety of Chronic-Pain Conditions

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Apr 22, 2010

Mind-Body-Spirit News

The effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction [MBSR] in easing pain and improving quality of life and well-being varies according to the nature of the chronic-pain condition and the consistency of home meditation practice, according to data analysis from a 6-year longitudinal study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2010; 68, 29–36).

A group of medical researchers based in Philadelphia and North Carolina followed 133 chronic-pain patients who were participating in a larger MBSR study that was open to anyone interested in exploring the health benefits of meditation. Investigators observed subgroups of patients with different types of chronic pain, including neck and/or back pain, chronic headaches or migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other less common conditions. The stress reduction program was modeled after the original MBSR curriculum used by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.

The program in the study lasted 8 weeks and included instructions for subjects to practice 20–25 minutes of formal meditation daily, 6 days per week. Researchers found that improvements in pain and other factors were related to the particular pain condition and to subjects’ compliance with the home meditation practice.

Patients with back or neck pain and those with two or more pain conditions reported significant improvements in pain intensity and functional limitations resulting from pain. Participants with arthritis reported the most improvement in health-related quality of life and the largest reduction in psychological distress. Subjects with fibromyalgia experienced the smallest improvement in psychological distress. Those with chronic headache or migraine reported the least change in pain and health-related quality of life.

Limitations of the study included, among other factors, that it was an observational study without a control group; that only one pain assessment tool was used; that sample sizes were small for specific pain conditions; and that most participants were Caucasian women.

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 7, Issue 5

© 2010 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in...


Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Dark Chocolate + Your Internal Biota = Good Health

The evidence supporting the health benefits of dark chocolate can now be tied scientifically to the millions of microbes living in your gut. Louisiana State University researchers reported in mid-M...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Asian Salad for Spring

This flavorful salad featuring black rice, crunchy veggies, cranberries and almonds can be further combined with your favorite greens. The s...

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Sample Class: Functional Strength for Older Adults

Baby Boomers are constantly bombarded with promises to lift, tighten and rejuvenate their bodies and “turn back the clock.” Truthfully, fitness professionals can roll back the clock for ol...

Understanding Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s immune, self-protective and healing response to harmful stimuli, irritants, pathogens and damaged cells. Mo...

Obesity's Impact on Lifespan

Here’s more reason to encourage individuals who are obese to move more and improve their diets: Obesity can chop up to 9 years off a l...

Functional Strength Training Combinations

Functional training essentially involves moving the body through different planes of motion while working multiple muscle groups and challenging balance. This Add It Up! strategy includes an upper-bod...