National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health

Información en Español

Health Topics A-Z

Study Finds Mindfulness Meditation Offers Relief for Low-Back Pain

Share:
email
Twitter
Facebook
AddThis

For Immediate Release:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may prove more effective than usual treatment in alleviating chronic low-back pain, according to a new study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers from the Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, and the University of Washington, Seattle, conducted a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which 342 participants aged 20 to 70 used one of the two mind and body approaches or sought usual care for one year. At 26 and 52 weeks, participants using MBSR and CBT had greater improvement in function and back pain compared to the group that remained in standard care. Though pain intensity and some mental health measures improved in both groups, those using CBT did not see improvement beyond 26 weeks. Those using MBSR, however, continued to see improvement at 52 weeks, leading researchers to conclude MBSR may be an effective treatment for chronic low-back pain.

MBSR brings together elements of mindfulness meditation and yoga, whereas CBT is a form of psychotherapy that trains individuals to modify specific thoughts and behaviors. For the study, participants in the group using MBSR and the group using CBT attended a two-hour group session on their respective approach per week for eight weeks and supplemented their treatment with workbooks and CDs for practice at home. The study was led by Daniel Cherkin, Ph.D., a senior scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute .

“It is vital that we identify effective nonpharmacologic treatment options for 25 million people who suffer from daily pain, in the United States,” said Josephine Briggs, M.D., director of NCCIH. “The results from this research affirm that non-drug/non-opioid therapies, such as meditation, can help manage chronic low-back pain. Physicians and their patients can use this information to inform treatment decisions.”


About the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): NCCIH’s mission is to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care. For additional information, call NCCIH’s Clearinghouse toll free at 1-888-644-6226. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

This page last modified September 24, 2017