New York, Oct 2 : Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course -- yoga and meditation-- was found to benefit patients with chronic pain and depression, leading to significant improvement in participant perceptions of pain, mood and functional capacity.
According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, most of the participants (89 per cent) reported the programme helped them find ways to better cope with their pain while 11 per cent remained neutral.
Chronic pain is a common and serious medical condition affecting an estimated 100 million people in the US, which correlates with annual costs of approximately $635 billion.
The small-scale study was conducted in a semi-rural population in Oregon, US, where issues of affordability, addiction and access to care are common.
Participants received intensive instruction in mindfulness meditation and mindful hatha yoga during an eight-week period.
"Many people have lost hope because, in most cases, chronic pain will never fully resolve," said study author Cynthia Marske from the Community Health Clinics of Benton and Linn County in the US.
"However, mindful yoga and meditation can help improve the structure and function of the body, which supports the process of healing," Marske added.
The study found mindful meditation and yoga led to significant improvements in patients' perceptions of pain, depression and disability. Following the course, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores, a standard measure of depression, dropped by 3.7 points on a 27-point scale.
According to the researchers, some patients experience a similar drop from the use of an antidepressant."Chronic pain often goes hand-in-hand with depression," Marske said.
"Mindfulness-based meditation and yoga can help restore both a patient's mental and physical health and can be effective alone or in combination with other treatments such as therapy and medication," Marske added.