Mind-body therapies can reduce pain and opioid use. Harvardhealth
Researchers looking for ways to help people manage pain without drugs found that the practice of mind-body therapies was associated with reduced pain intensity, and may also assist some people in reducing their use of opioid medications.interoception center in the brain increases and the amygdala shrinks in size with regular mindfulness practices, which explains better emotional regulation and pain control. The brain’s ability to react to painful stimuli with an emotional response decreases, and a person is more likely to respond calmly to a stimulus instead of having a hasty emotional reaction (hurt, pain, anger, etc.). The increased perception and awareness with regular mediation will make a person feel every sensation, including pain; however, they may choose not to react to it, so practicing meditation can help you better manage pain. New research on MBTs for pain management and reducing opioid use A published in JAMA looked into the use of MBTs as potential tools in addressing the opioid crisis. Researchers reviewed 60 randomized clinical trials with 6,404 participants and found that MBTs had a moderate association with reduction in pain intensity and a small but statistically significant association with reduced opioid dose. These findings suggest that MBTs are an effective nonmedication tool in reducing the experience of pain, and using MBTs may have some benefit in reducing opioid use and misuse. MBTs may also help with cravings for opioids if someone is trying to reduce their dose. However, a closer look into the analysis reveals that the type of MBT used affects therapeutic efficacy. Often combinations of MBTs are used to treat pain, and it is difficult to be certain which type of MBT is most effective. There is also a lack of conclusive evidence for the benefit of using MBTs in certain clinical scenarios (such as following surgery), due to inconsistent reporting of opioid dosing and durations. Lastly, there is currently a gap in our understanding regarding the right time to implement MBTs, and their effectiveness as an adjunct to opioid-treated pain. All these criticisms do not negate the results of the JAMA study; rather, this work highlights a need for future research to determine what types of MBTs could be most effective in helping with pain and reducing opioids. Routine mindfulness meditation practices can improve your quality of life As mentioned, MBTs, particularly meditation, play a huge role in transforming our experience of pain. Meditation allows us to recognize the authenticity of distress and not be overwhelmed by it. Learning and practicing mindfulness-based meditation is a means to deal with pain and the inevitable stresses of life, and to improve your quality of life. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and no one MBT that works for everyone. The array of available MBTs means there is flexibility to choose your level of involvement and time spent in these practices. Our personal experience with meditation and its effects on our lives and the well-being of our patients make us strong advocates of MBTs. As always, discuss all medication changes and new lifestyle practices with your doctor. Related Information: Read more: Harvard Health
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