Mindfulness can be an effective adjunct to medication for chronic pain.
Image: Tetmc/ Thinkstock
For a long time, people with chronic pain have had to make a trade-off—enduring the discomfort stoically or taking medications that pose additional health risks, including dependence and addiction. But in the last few years, medicine has added another approach that has no troubling side effects: mindfulness.
"Mindfulness is basically paying attention to the present moment without judging," says Dr. Sara Lazar, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. It is a component of many relaxation techniques, including yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, massage, reflexology, journaling, and prayer.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.