A new study shows that veterans who suffer from chronic pain may be helped by meditation and this has applications for civilians as well. The pilot study was performed by researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The researchers determined that meditation could help veterans with chronic pain experience less stress and fewer negative emotions associated with the pain that they feel. Meditation also helped to boost the coping skills that the veterans had so they were better able to cope with the pain that they suffered. In the USA returning veterans tend to have the highest rates of chronic pain and they typically experience multiple trauma while serving. Many healthcare providers struggle to find ways to treat these veterans for their pain while preventing addiction when opioid pain medications are prescribed.
Opioid based drugs can be used to treat chronic pain but these medications have a wide range of negative side effects and a very high addiction potential. Meditation can be used to help alleviate chronic pain without all of the negative side effects that pain medications have in many veterans, and this method shows great promise in helping the individual have a better quality of life while avoiding the possibility of dependence and addiction. According to D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center researcher and American University’s Department of Health Studies lecturer Thomas Nassif, Ph.D. “Meditation allows a person to accept pain and to respond to pain with less stress and emotional reactivity. Our theory is that this process increases coping skills, which in turn can help veterans to self-manage their chronic pain.”