Meditation could help with back pain 

Meditation and Pain

Meditating for 10 minutes a day could help relieve back pain, according to a UK university’s study.

Researchers from Leeds Beckett University looked at 24 healthy students and their pain tolerance, intensity and threshold after meditating, and found that meditation can help with managing pain, and may be as effective at reducing pain as the use of painkillers.

Cold-pressor task

The study involved a group of 12 men and 12 women who were randomly split into a control group and a meditation group.

The students then had to undergo a cold-pressor task to cause them pain. This involved them putting their hand in warm water for two minutes, before removing it and putting it immediately into ice water for as long as they could manage. They only removed their hand when the pain became too much and could no longer be tolerated.

They then either sat quietly for 10 minutes (control group) or meditated for 10 minutes (meditation group). The task was then repeated for a second time.

Pain tolerance

The researchers, from the School of Clinical and Applied Sciences, collected data on five different aspects of pain: anxiety towards pain, pain threshold, pain tolerance, pain intensity and pain unpleasantness.

After the first task, there was no difference reported in the groups of participants. But after the second task, those students in the medication group reported a significant decrease in anxiety towards pain and a significant increase in pain threshold and pain tolerance.


One of the researchers, Dr Osama Tashani, Senior Research Fellow in Pain Studies, said: “While further research is needed to explore this in a more clinical setting on chronic pain patients, these results do show that a brief mindfulness meditation intervention can be of benefit in pain relief.

“The ease of application and cost effectiveness of the mindfulness meditation may also make it a viable addition to the arsenal of therapies for pain management.”

He explained that the meditation was led by one of the researchers who was a novice in meditation: “So in theory, clinicians could administer this with little training needed. It’s based on traditional Buddhist teachings which focuses attention and awareness on your breathing.”

The results of this UK study back up those from a recent US study that found that mindfulness meditation could help decrease chronic lower back pain. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy resulted in significant improvements in reports of how much the participants’ back pain bothered them, compared with usual care of physiotherapy and medications.

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