Research shows that in addition to the physical sensations of pain, there are cognitive, emotional and behavioral processes that contribute to the cycle of chronic pain . People who engage in catastrophizing (believing something is worse than it is) and rumination (constant worrying) develop fear of their pain, which leads to avoidance of activities, functional disability and increased future pain [1, 2]. Therefore, introducing a technique that corrects catastrophizing and rumination can help break the cycle of chronic pain.
Mindfulness is a cognitive behavioral strategy that promotes present-moment awareness of body sensations, such as the experience of pain. In contrast to pain catastrophizing, mindfulness is intentional and non-judgmental. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce symptoms of physical pain, depression and anxiety while increasing factors such as sleep quality and psychological well-being [3-5].
The reason mindfulness can be so effective when used to treat chronic pain is because, unlike medication, mindfulness interventions target the cognitive, emotional and behavioral aspects of the pain experience [6, 7]. Participants learn how to identify emotionally charged thoughts that lead to anxiety, behavioral avoidance and future pain by observing the pain experience in a non-judgmental, objective way . By separating the physical sensation of pain from the emotional experience, pain is reduced .
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