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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction May Ease Back Pain

Mindfulness-based stress reduction tied to short-term benefit for pain intensity, physical functioning

woman practicing yoga

TUESDAY, April 25, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with low back pain, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may be associated with short-term improvements in pain intensity and physical functioning, according to a review published online April 24 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dennis Anheyer, from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, and colleagues reviewed data from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared MBSR with usual care or an active comparator in patients with low back pain. Data were included from seven RCTs with 864 patients.

The researchers found that MBSR correlated with short-term improvements in pain intensity (standardized mean difference, −0.48 points) and physical functioning (standardized mean difference, 0.25 point) compared with usual care; these improvements were not maintained in the long term. At short- or long-term follow-up, between-group differences in disability, mental health, pain acceptance, and mindfulness were not significant. MBSR was not associated with significant differences in short- or long-term outcomes compared with an active comparator. There were no reports of serious adverse events.

"Long-term RCTs that compare MBSR versus active treatments are needed in order to best understand the role of MBSR in the management of low back pain," the authors write.

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