Wednesday 17 July 2019

Use mindfulness to manage pain

It is reckoned that 400,000 of us suffer from long-term pain which can end up blighting our days and nights, with little end in sight.

People with this level of discomfort grasp at anything for relief but the good news is that there is help available.

A recent study of patients in distress in St James's Hospital, Dublin, attempted to find out how 'mindfulness-based stress reduction' might help them.

Mindfulness involves awareness of our present experience. Concerns about the future or past fade into the background while the mind focuses on physical sensations, moods and emotions.

This contrasts with our more habitual autopilot state, where we are often lost in thought about the future or past.

The results of the study from the Department of Pain Medicine in St James's Hospital were recently outlined at a conference in the Royal College of Surgeons.

Consultants picked patients deemed suitable for mindfulness training: 87 patients were invited to attend a course. Of these, 35 took part and out of this number, 25 completed the course.

These patients reported "great benefit". When their well-being was measured, it was deemed to have increased significantly.

The recommendation of the study is that an online course should be developed for patients who cannot travel to the hospital.

This is just one ray of hope but the reality is that most chronic pain sufferers in Ireland have to wait up to two years for a diagnosis and many never get access to effective pain management.

There are only a few specialists who are employed to treat the condition here.

Among the main causes of chronic pain are arthritis, cancer, diabetes and road traffic accidents.

Sports injuries too are also becoming a growing cause of this kind of distress.

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