Chronic Pain? Try Mindfulness Meditation

October 17, 2018

A woman meditating

Once we feel an ache or pain in our body, we immediately try to figure out a solution to fix it or pretend it doesn’t exist. Oftentimes, though, we never sit with our pain and acknowledge it and its effects on our wellbeing. 

Meditation, which has seen a resurgence lately, is a simple way of acknowledging your pain and breathing through it. Meditation, in its many forms and mantras, can be a great complement to your regular pain treatments. Mindfulness, a form of meditation that involves focusing on different parts of the body and observing (with your mind’s eye) what you feel, has been shown in clinical trials to reduce chronic pain by 57 percent.

Mindfulness as Medicine

According to a Psychology Today article on mindfulness, “Imaging studies show that mindfulness soothes the brain patterns underlying pain and, over time, these changes take root and alter the structure of the brain itself, so that patients no longer feel pain with the same intensity.”

That same article labels pain in two categories: primary and secondary pain. Primary pain is formed from illness, damage or injury. Secondary pain is your body’s reaction to primary pain and is often more intense and long-lasting.

Mindfulness calms the circuits that amplify secondary pain. Overall, mindfulness provides you necessary mental steps to control your pain and turn down the “volume control.”

In addition to pain, mindfulness meditation has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety, depression and irritability. Regular meditation has been linked to improved memory, reaction times and physical stamina. Meditators are also less likely to suffer from psychological distress.


Getting Started with Meditation

Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that anyone can do from the comfort of their own home. Once you understand the sensations and feeling of being in the present, it’s easy to be mindful.

For pain sufferers, performing a “body scan” is a great way of being mindful while acknowledging your pain.

To prepare for a body scan mindfulness meditation:

  • Lay on a comfortable surface, like a bed
  • Gently spread your limbs outward, separating them
  • Pay special attention to your breath and its natural rhythms for a few minutes

Once you’re ready, start noticing the sensations in your toes. How do your toes feel? Warm? Tingly? Cold or aching? Really pay attention to how your body feels in the moment as you feel each unique sensation.

Then, begin feeling the sensations of your legs. Make note of each sensation you feel. You might notice your mind wander at times (which is okay!), and each time, gently return your focus back to your body.

Spend 10 minutes feeling each sensation of your body, trickling up and ending at your head. Over time, you’ll become more aware of your pain and with regular meditation, you’ll be able to feel past your pain and find relief.


No Cure-All

Meditation isn’t and shouldn’t be a cure-all for your chronic pain. Seek a trained professional’s advice if you’re suffering from severe pain.

However, if you’re looking for a simple, easy pain management solution to add into your schedule, try meditation. It’s free and requires only a short time commitment each day. Do you have 10 minutes for pain relief?

Southside Pain Specialists is your one-stop for pain management with a multitude of pain relief options tailored to your specific needs. Southside Pain Specialists follows the standards of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, The American Board of Pain Medicine and the International Spinal Injection Society and works hard to provide patients comprehensive, caring pain relief when they need it most. Check out our website or contact us today at 205.332.3155 to learn more.