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DOI

10.25035/JSMAHS.07.02.01

Abstract

Purpose: Athletic trainers frequently address and treat musculoskeletal pain (MSK). Complementary and alternative techniques for treating pain are becoming more widely accepted and utilized in clinical practice. Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is a meditation-based program that is designed to help patients learn to feel things in a non-judgmental way. Previous systematic reviews on mindfulness training have focused a range of conditions including IBS, fibromyalgia, and migraines. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine if the literature supports the use of MBSR as an intervention for MSK pain. Methods: We completed a systematic review utilizing PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were English language, human subjects, peer reviewed, randomized controlled trial, mindfulness training as an intervention, and MSK pain as an outcome measure. An electronic search was conducted using the single phrase “mindfulness training and musculoskeletal pain”. PubMed, Cochran Database, EBSCOhost, and Google Scholar were searched. Articles were first eliminated by title, and then by abstract contents. Remaining articles were given a full review and articles not meeting inclusion criteria were eliminated. Articles were assessed using the PEDRO scale with a cutoff score of 6 used to determine inclusion in the systematic review. Final analysis included 19 articles. Results: Study populations included patients diagnosed with cancer, nonspecific low back pain, chronic MSK pain, chronic tension headache, Gulf War illness, upper extremity injury, and one study employed healthy subjects and used experimentally induced pain. Intervention lengths ranged from single day to 10 weeks. Of the 19 studies in the analysis, nine of them indicated statistically significant results in favor of the meditation group for pain outcomes. Other studies noted improvement in the meditation group, but results did not reach statistically significant levels. Conclusion: MBSR has the potential to provide a beneficial effect in the treatment of MSK pain. The results of this systematic review indicate that the benefits of MBSR treatment may depend on the specific patient population and type of MSK pain. Further research is needed, but the systematic review suggests that MBSR may be an effective tool as part of a larger, complementary, and patient-centered care plan.

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