Meditation: Though No Cure for Arthritis Pain, It Can Help You Cope

Numerous studies support the therapeutic value of meditation. Theyve also found that it doesnt work for everyone or for every condition.

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A convincing body of evidence suggests that meditation has an appropriate role in pain management in general and arthritis pain management in particular, says Teresa Dews, MD, a pain management specialist at Cleveland Clinic. But a close look at the research reveals that the benefits of meditation may have a greater effect on the emotional health of those suffering from arthritis than direct pain-relieving powers. The most compelling evidence regarding meditation is that it may be able to reduce stress, and stress is believed to be associated with flare-ups in several forms of arthritis, including lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. An October 2007 study published in Arthritis Care & Research found that an eight-week regimen of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)-a program that trains individuals to focus on the moment to achieve a sense of calm-helped patients reduce their level of stress related to arthritis by more than 33 percent, but it had no effect on arthritis activity or progression. The findings of another 2007 study, this conducted at the University of Basel in Switzerland, found that MBSR helped fibromyalgia patients in several ways, including coping with pain, anxiety, and depression. Research conducted 10 years ago at the University of Maryland found that an eight-week program of MBSR, combined with QiGong-rhythmic Chinese exercises that mirror the movements of nature-and counseling in pain management resulted in an improvement in pain tolerance, less depression, and better coping skills.
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