Meditation and mindfulness can help reduce the need for opioids for people with chronic pain.
More than half the participants in a New York study said that mindful breathing helped them manage their chronic pain and stress.
“It was very calming and it helped”, was the comment of one participant. “I feel less anxious and it was very relaxing. The mind is a powerful tool,” said another.
Opiod misuse and addiction are currently a major public health issue in the United States.
About seven in 10 of those using opioids on a long term have conditions like low back pain or arthritis.
To address this issue the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York implemented a Pain and Stress Management programme which encouraged patients to use complementary practices as alternatives to medication.
The participants attended a monthly workshop led by a meditation instructor and social worker as well as a weekly meditation conference call.
“The results indicate that alternative approaches are effective in reducing pain and stress, and in improving self-management and general well-being,” said Robyn Wiesel, associate director, Public and Patient Education at HSS.
“Based on the success of the Pain and Stress Management program in the orthopedic clinic, it has been expanded to include patients in the HSS Rheumatology Clinic, many of whom rely on opioid medication to manage chronic pain.”
The research was presented at the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals annual meeting in Chicago.