Chronic pain a common issue which causes personal and social costs. It has negative effects on sleep, psychological functioning and social life. World Health Organization (3) reported the prevalence of chronic pain conditions as 37.7% in developed countries and 41.1% in developing countries. In another meta-analysis study (4), it was reported that prevalence of pain, lasting more than 3 months, was 30.3% (16 of 19 articles mentioned about low back pain or neck pain).
Pain is a multidimensional experience, including sensory, affective, cognitive-evaluative components, so meditation can be helpful for the pain experience on all of these 3 components because it includes both mind and body techniques (5). In a study conducted with 37 participants practiced meditation for 8 weeks, participants were told that it was relaxing and calming as short-term benefits, and increasing the quality of life and heightened awareness as long-term benefits (6).
Since the brain is the organ processing the pain, techniques, and treatments, which target the brain activities, might be helpful to release from pain (7). According to meta-analysis research, these are some of the effects of meditation in patients with chronic pain:
- Decreased pain processing, decreased pain-related activation after the meditation (associated with primary and secondary somatosensory cortices of the brain)
- Increased control over sensory processing and increased activation (associated with insula)
- Increased interoceptive awareness and activation, decreased pain processing (associated with bilateral insula)
- Decreased executive and evaluative processing; that is, decreased negative judgments and memories about pain (associated with prefrontal cortex)
- Heightened attention (associated with the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, hippocampus)
- Tsang, A. et al. (2008). Common chronic pain conditions in developed and developing countries: gender and age differences and comorbidity with depression-anxiety disorders. J Pain, 9, 883–891.
- Elzahaf, R. A., Tashani, O. A., Unsworth, B. A., & Johnson, M. I. (2012). The prevalence of chronic pain with an analysis of countries with a Human Development Index less than 0.9: A systematic review without meta-analysis. Curr Med Res Opin, 28, 1221–1229.
- Melzack, R., & Wall, P. D. (1965). Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science, 150, 971-979.
- Morone, N. E., Lynch, C. S., Greco,C. M., Tindle, H. A., & Weiner, D. K. (2008). “I felt like a new person.” the effects of mindfulness meditation on older adults with chronic pain: qualitative narrative analysis of diary entries. The Journal of Pain, 9(9), 841-848.
- Jensen, M. P., Day, M. A., & Miro, J. (2014). Neuromodulatory treatments for chronic pain: Efficacy and mechanisms. Nat. Rev. Neurol, 10, 167–178.