Many people use psychological techniques to help them cope with chronic pain. But which approach is best? A study published Jan. 31, 2019, in the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health offers insight. Researchers analyzed 21 randomized studies focusing on the effect of either cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), to redirect pain-related thoughts and behaviors, or mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), combining yoga and meditation to build awareness and acceptance of moment-to-moment experiences (including pain). The result: There was no clear winner. Both approaches reduced pain and depression and improved physical functioning compared with usual care or no care. The authors say the findings are important, since CBT is considered the go-to psychological technique for chronic pain. But MBSR should be considered as an additional tool, they suggest. Want to try it? Many hospitals, universities, and meditation centers offer MBSR programs. You can also search for MBSR videos and classes online.
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.