Mindfulness Meditation: A New Treatment for Back Pain
The back is a sophisticated structure of bones and muscles. The delicate system can be strained or irritated leading to some form of back pain. At any given time, it is estimated that 31 million Americans experience lower back pain.
Back pain can be difficult to manage, which is why it is the leading cause of occupational disability worldwide. Often, a sufferer is told that a combination of painkillers, heat/ice therapy, and exercises will help relieve back pain. However, a new study shows that a new, natural treatment could be effective in combating the pain: mindfulness meditation. The study showed that participants who engaged in mind-body therapy (Mindfulness Stress Based Relief Meditation) showed improved pain scores over the 8-week treatment sessions.
The research gives new hope to sufferers of back pain, especially those who are wary of taking pharmaceuticals for management. To incorporate mindfulness into a pain management routine, it might be good to start from the beginning. What is mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness is being aware of both your mind and body as well as your thoughts and feelings, and is the skill of paying attention to your inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.
In order to get started, there are some specialized, yet simple, techniques to practice mindfulness meditation. A basic recommended technique is posture therapy, which is essentially sitting in a controlled manner. Easy, right? In order to implement this routine, you’ll first want to take a seat–it can be on the floor, or on a sturdy chair or cushion.
If on the floor, cross your legs, and if in a chair, plant your feet on the floor. Straighten your back without stiffening it, and allow your hands to drop on the tops of your legs. If you feel as if you are hunched or stiff, adjust your posture to be straight, but comfortable. Drop your chin and allow your gaze to fall gently downward. Then, relax.
During this time, you can focus on your breathing. Don’t worry if your mind wanders. Don’t worry if your mind is empty. Exist in the moment of relaxation. You can hold this position for 3-5 minutes, and that’s it! A few minutes a day can start you on the path to reduced pain!
If you are still feeling intimidated by the idea of meditation, there are some wonderful apps that can help jump start your mindfulness journey. Different apps will include guided features to help you through meditation by improving your technique and overcoming any self-consciousness associated with it. You can find a nice list of highly rated apps here, or explore the app store to find one that suits your needs!
As we continue to explore treatment options, we are discovering that back pain is manageable and that implementing healthy, non-pharmaceutical treatment techniques could be what keeps you pain-free in certain situations! If you have questions about your pain and want to consult with a doctor, please contact us here.