Mindfulness as a treatment modality for Chronic Pain

As described by Black Dog Institute, mindfulness is a form of ‘self-awareness training adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation. It has been adapted for use in treatment of depression, especially preventing relapse and for assisting with mood regulation. It has been described as a state of being in the present, accepting things for what they are, i.e. non-judgementally. It was originally developed to assist with mood regulation and relapse prevention in depression and has been found to have considerable health benefits’.


Schutze et. al. (2010) conducted a cross sectional study on the relationship between persistent pain and self-directed, non-reactive awareness of present moment experience (mindfulness) within one of the dominant psychological theories of chronic pain – the fear-avoidance model. Included in their study, were 104 chronic pain patients attending a pain clinic. The authors found that lower levels of mindfulness significantly predicted pain intensity, negative affect, pain catastrophising, pain related fear, pain hyper-vigilance, and functional disability, contributing 17 to 41 percent of the variance of each. More simply put, this highlighted that the extent to which a person engages in negative ruminations and catastrophic thinking about their pain may depend on their ability to be mindful. The authors concluded that this was the first clear evidence substantiating the strong link between mindfulness and pain catastrophizing, and suggesting mindfulness might be added to the fear-avoidance model.


More recently, Banth and Didehdar Ardebil (2015) examined the efficacy of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) as a mind-body intervention on quality of life and pain severity of female patients with nonspecific chronic LBP (NSCLBP), also highlighting that recovery of patients with chronic low back pain (LBP) is dependent on several physical and psychological factors. A total of 88 patients were included in the study and assigned to either an experimental or control group, all of which were assessed before, after and 4 weeks post intervention. The authors concluded that MBSR as a mind-body therapy including body scan, sitting and walking meditation was effective intervention on reduction of pain severity and improvement of physical and mental quality of life of female patients with NSCLBP.


Workplace Physiotherapy incorporates mindfulness-based practices into their management of patients with chronic pain conditions. Innervate Pain Management Program (conducted within the Hunter Specialist Medical Centre and in association with Workplace Physiotherapy) provide mindfulness intervention on a weekly basis as a key component of their intensive, multidisciplinary pain management program (http://www.innervate.com.au/site/pain-programs).



Ref: http://www.innervate.com.au/site/pain-programs http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au /docs/10.MindfulnessinEverydayLife.pdf
Schutze, R., Rees, C., Preece, M., & Schutze, M. (2010). Low mindfulness predicts pain catastrophizing in a fear-avoidance model of chronic pain. Pain, 148(1), 120-127.
Banth S., Didehdar Ardebil M. Effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on pain and quality of life of patients with chronic low back pain. Int J Yoga. 2015 Jul-Dec; 8(2): 128–133.


The comments above are the implicit advice of Workplace Physiotherapy. The views expressed are based on current evidence-based research and accepted best practice approaches. Unless otherwise stated, these comments are not the view of WorkCover NSW or any other professional body. No reproduction or forwarding of this advice is permitted without the consent of the author.


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