50 million Americans live with chronic pain. This is defined as pain lasting 3 months or longer than typical ‘tissue healing time’ For many, chronic pain presents a significant and critical challenge to patients and practitioners.
Early studies on the use of mindfulness meditation as a treatment for chronic pain showed promising results in outcomes of pain and associated psychiatric issues such as depression and anxiety which are often associated with chronic pain.
The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects and safety of mindfulness meditation on existing studies. This analysis looked for articles and existing research which exclusively used pain as the primary outcome, with secondary outcomes of depression, quality of life, and analgesic use as measures of its success.
Over 30 studies which met the inclusion criteria, and the analysis revealed that mindfulness meditation was associated with a small effect of improved pain symptoms compared with treatment. Mindfulness meditation was also associated with statistically significant improvement in depression, physical health, and mental health. While this was a preliminary analysis, better designed, rigorous, and large scale studies can help us better understand the efficacy of mindfulness meditation for chronic pain.