Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine revealed how mindfulness meditation reduces pain. The study is published in the journal PAIN.
The researchers conducted a two-phase study to understand the mechanisms of mindfulness-induced pain relief.
In the first phase of the study, 40 participants had their brains scanned while painful heat was applied to their legs. Afterward, they had to rate their average pain levels during the experiment.
In the second phase of the study, the original participants were split into two groups. Only the members of the mindfulness group underwent mindfulness training.
The experiment of the first study was repeated—with different instructions for each group. The mindfulness group was asked to meditate and the control group was asked to rest with closed eyes as the heat was administered.
The results revealed that the participants in the mindfulness group reported a 32% reduction in pain intensity and a 33% reduction in pain unpleasantness, in comparison to the control group.
The researchers reasoned that mindfulness-induced pain relief involves a reduced synchronization between the thalamus and brain areas associated with mind-wandering. By relinquishing the self-referential appraisal of pain, mindfulness meditation and other techniques provide a more handy option for coping with body pains.
The researchers hoped that the study can be used to formulate mindfulness training strategies that are accessible and cost-effective and could be easily integrated into standard outpatient procedures.
One of the lead researchers, Fadel Zeidan, elaborated: “This is a really important finding for the millions of people looking for a fast-acting and non-pharmacological treatment for pain.”
To Know More You May Refer To
Gabriel Riegner, Grace Posey, Valeria Oliva, Youngkyoo Jung, William Mobley, Fadel Zeidan. Disentangling self from pain: mindfulness meditation-induced pain relief is driven by thalamic-default mode network decoupling. Pain, 2022; Publish Ahead of Print DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002731