In collaboration with Keck School of Medicine

Have Chronic Low Back Pain? Try Meditation.


Millions of people suffer from chronic low back pain around the country. It’s a common condition that can keep people from doing the things they want to do, and it can have a negative impact on one’s overall quality of life. Those who suffer from chronic low back pain are often searching for something that will help bring them relief. They may be overlooking one thing that is cost-effective, safe, and doesn’t take a prescription.

When people visit the doctor with chronic low back pain, they are often prescribed injections, analgesics, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some of these options may help provide some relief, but usually, it’s not for long, and the use of some of these options is often questioned. Meditation is an alternative type of treatment option that few likely think about, but the science suggests that maybe it should be recommended more often.

In the February 2022 issue of the journal Pain Medicine, researchers shared their findings from conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis studies that had used meditation therapy to help those who suffer from chronic low back pain [1]. Their review included 12 trials with 1153 patients who have chronic low back pain. The primary outcomes they focused on include pain intensity, pain-related disability, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes included patient bothersomeness.

They found 10 trials that showed meditation significantly reduced chronic low back pain intensity compared to non-meditation therapies. There were seven trials that showed meditation significantly reduced chronic low back pain bothersomeness in patients, and three trials showed that meditation therapy significantly improved patient quality of life.

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They concluded that meditation therapy is a safe and effective alternative approach to helping manage chronic low back pain. Those who suffer from the condition may want to get serious about engaging in a routine meditation practice, which is also likely to bring additional benefits beyond helping to ease the pain.

There are numerous meditation videos that can be found online, as well as meditation classes found online and in person. Additionally, there are many books that explain different meditation approaches, but opting for one that focuses on mindfulness-based stress reduction is an excellent place to start.

Meditation can be practiced by everyone and can be done in a group or at home alone. While many people feel they have trouble meditating, it’s more likely that they need to give it time because it’s a practice and something we get better at the more we stick with the practice.

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  1. Pain Medicine. Meditation-based Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain Management. February 2022.

This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.

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