Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Study Shows Meditation Helps Reduce Pain

I ran across an interesting article in Medical News Today reporting on a recent study out of Wake Forest studying the effects of meditation on reducing pain.

Healthy individuals were subjected pain stimulation while their brain activity was monitored on an MRI.

After these individuals were trained in meditation techniques, MRI imaging showed a reduction in the areas of the brain that were activated in response to pain without using meditation techniques.

In addition to the differences evident in the MRI scans, Dr. Fadel Zeidan noted that meditation also produced a significant reduction in pain intensity and in pain unpleasantness. Specifically, meditation resulted in about a 40 percent reduction in pain intensity and a 57 percent reduction in pain unpleasantness.

The type of meditation used during this study was Shamatha, which focuses on learning how to observe what’s going on in one’s mind and body without judging, and while maintaining focus on one’s breathing or a chanted mantra.

Interesting stuff. Obviously, not all pain can be relieved or cured by meditating, but this study seems to show that meditation may be an option for people who have run out of other medical treatment options to control their pain. Certainly, if an pain can be reduced, it can improve his or her functioning and quality of life.

I haven’t run across a Minnesota case yet in my practice where an individual has specifically sought payment from a workers’ compensation insurer for a course of training in meditation techniques. However, many chronic pain programs designed to help seriously injured individuals learn cope with pain do utilize meditation as a pain control technique.

Under Minnesota workers’ compensation law, most types of medical treatment are covered. So-called alternative or holistic treatments are also generally covered, although they are often disputed by the workers’ compensation insurance companies. In my opinion, if an injured worker’s doctor has recommended a course of training in meditation techniques to help control pain, and if meditation does indeed help an individual control his or her pain levels, certainly that would be preferable to taking daily doses of narcotic medication, both for the injured worker, and for the insurance company who foots the bill.

There are a wide variety of medical benefits available to injured workers under Minnesota workers’ compensation, in addition to other benefits. To learn more about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights, contact us at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Jen Yackley or Ron Meuser.


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