TUESDAY, March 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may be more effective than standard medical care for managing low back pain, according to a study published in the March 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings were based on 342 adults with persistent low back pain with no clear cause for at least three months. The team randomly assigned each patient to one of three groups: Those in the MBSR group were supposed to attend eight weekly sessions led by an instructor, and start a home practice of meditation and basic yoga poses. A second group was assigned to eight sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Patients in the third study group were told they could opt for any standard treatment they liked, including pain medication and physical therapy.
Six months into the study, 60.5 percent of patients in the MBSR group showed meaningful improvement in their daily activities. That compared with 44.1 percent of patients who'd been free to opt for the other therapies. Patients who received CBT also fared better, with 57.7 percent showing significant improvements at six months. At one year, 68.6 percent of MBSR patients were reporting improvements in their daily activities, versus 58.8 percent of the CBT group and 48.6 percent of the standard care group. Reports of bothersome pain were also improved more in the MBSR group.
The focus of MBSR is on becoming aware of body sensations, thoughts, and emotions -- without trying to change them, explained study leader Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D. Cherkin is a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. "Neurological research has demonstrated how the body and mind are truly intertwined," Cherkin told HealthDay. The way the mind senses and responds to pain is critical, he said.