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March 22/29, 2016

Is It Time to Make Mind-Body Approaches Available for Chronic Low Back Pain?

Author Affiliations
  • 1NorthBay Center for Primary Care, Vacaville, California
  • 2Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2016;315(12):1236-1237. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2437

The substantial increase in clinical trials of mindfulness meditation over the past 2 decades reflects an increasing interest in using mindfulness approaches to treat various symptoms and disorders.1-3 For example, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a semistandardized 8-week program created in 1979, has been used for many of these trials and is based on meditation techniques.4 These meditation techniques were not intended to cure any specific health problems. Rather, they were intended as a way to deal with stress and address adverse life experiences by increasing awareness of breathing, thoughts, and bodily sensations and learning to observe them from a detached perspective. Not reacting to these phenomena, but simply observing them, can lead to greater objectivity about how an individual thinks and feels toward them. This objectivity could lead to a different experience of the phenomena altogether and may lead to a deeper understanding of how the mind and body interact to create life experiences. Thus, this awareness of what causes life experiences could lead to reduced pain and stress through avoidance of mental and physical behaviors that promote adverse outcomes.