Effectiveness of focused meditation for patients with chronic low back pain-A randomized controlled clinical trial.
Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun ;26:79-84. Epub 2016 Mar 9. PMID: 27261986
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of an 8-week meditation program (focused meditation) in patients with chronic low-back pain.
DESIGN: A randomized clinical trial was conducted on 68 patients (55 years;75% female) with chronic low-back pain who scored>40mm on a 100mm Visual-Analogue-Scale. Subjects were allocated to an 8-week meditation program (focused meditation) with weekly 75min classes or to a self-care exercise program with a wait-list offer for meditation. Both groups were instructed to practice at home. Outcomes were assessed baseline and after 4 and 8 weeks. The primary outcome measure was the change in mean back pain at rest after 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes included function, pain-related bothersomeness, perceived stress, quality-of-life (QOL), and psychological outcomes.
RESULTS: Twelve (meditation) and 4 (exercise) patients were lost to follow-up. The primary outcome, pain at rest after 8 weeks, was reduced from 59.3±13.9mm to 40.8±21.8mm with meditation vs. 52.9±11.8mm to 37.3±18.2mm with exercise (adjusted group difference: -1.4 (95%CI:11.6;8.8;p=n.s.) Perceived stress was significantly more reduced with meditation (p=0.011). No significant treatment effects were found for other secondary outcomes as pain-related bothersomeness, function, quality-of-life and psychological scores, although the meditation group consistently showed non-significant better improvements compared to the exercise group.
CONCLUSIONS: Focused meditation and self-care exercise lead to comparable, symptomatic improvements in patients with chronic low back pain. Future studies should include longer-term follow-ups and develop guided meditation programs to support compliance.