Stop the Pain

Chronic pain is so elusive that the drugs prescribed to treat it are often ineffective. But a study shows that the power of the mind goes far in treating aches in the body.

Patrick Randolph, Ph.D., and colleagues, from Texas Tech University, have created a Pain and Stress Management Program (PSMP) based on Eastern meditation techniques, which, when combined with medication, improve patients' pain symptoms significantly better than drug therapy alone.

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The PSMP is an eight-week regimen that uses Buddhist discipline of "mindfulness meditation"—moment-to-moment awareness of what our bodies are doing. The discipline's goals are to understand one's mental processes, develop the power to control these processes and gain freedom from one's mind-set.

Study volunteers, who had all suffered from chronic pain for at least six months, were taught hatha yoga and meditation in two-hour classes. A year later, the patients undergoing medical treatment and the PSMP reported that their feelings of pain decreased by 79%; their ability to handle stress improved by 80%; and 98% believed that they had learned key coping skills.

"Chronic pain is treated more effectively with a multidisciplinary approach," says Randolph. "it cannot be harnessed using treatments that solely address the body."

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