Older adults with chronic lower back pain frequently suffer loss of physical function from unremitting pain and have limited pharmacologic treatment options. A recent randomized trial found that mindfulness meditation in adults 65 years and older with chronic lower back pain improved physical function in the short-term, but only reduced current and most severe pain in the longer-term (Morone NE et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176:329-337).
The study randomly assigned 282 older adults to a group intervention of 8 weekly 90-minute mindfulness meditation sessions where they learned 4 different meditation methods. The control group participated in an 8-week group health education program modeled on a curriculum for healthy aging, which did not include information on controlling pain. All participants subsequently received 6 monthly hour-long refresher sessions. Participants’ perceived functional limitation was measured on the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). Pain intensity (current, mean, and most severe in the past week) was assessed with the Numeric Pain Rating Scale.
Slomski A. Mind-Body Program Helps Back Pain but Not Function. JAMA. 2016;315(16):1693. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3743