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PRACTICE PAIN RELIEF
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has different meanings for different people. Traditionally, the act of focusing one’s mind has been used in religious and spiritual practices around the globe. More recently, it’s become a popular method of relaxation. Now, new research shows that this ancient practice may have yet another benefit: pain management. In 2008, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey found that over 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis and debilitating injuries. Because of this, care providers have become focused on finding ways to help patients manage these persistent aches. The sensation of pain is caused by a complex interaction of biological and cognitive factors, leading scientists to study how mental exercises like meditation can aid in pain relief. Anecdotal evidence regarding meditation’s ability to reduce pain has existed for as long as the practice itself. However, modern technology has given researchers the means to accurately measure the effectiveness of this age-old tradition. The Department of Health and Human Services has cited MRI brain scans as proof that meditation can lead to moderate pain
reduction. These scans revealed that the same areas of the brain stimulated by painkillers are activated when the mind is in a meditative state. This supports the accounts of those who have reported better functionality after meditative sessions. With the ongoing tragedy of the opioid crisis, there is a dire need for pain management strategies that are noninvasive and not habit-forming, such as physical therapy. Meditation is easily accessible and can be used in conjunction with other pain relief strategies. Whether you sign up for guided meditation sessions, download one of the many mindfulness apps on the market today, or simply make time to sit and clear your mind for 30 minutes, it’s easy to add meditation to your normal routine.
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