In a study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers reviewed evidence from 60 studies that included about 6,400 participants. They evaluated a range of strategies, including meditation, guided imagery, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy.
“Mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical hypnosis appear to be the most useful for reducing pain,” says study author Eric Garland, a professor at the University of Utah. The reductions in dose were modest overall, he says, but the study is a signal that this approach is beneficial.
And Pamela Bobb, who lives in Fairfield Glade, Tenn., can attest to the benefits. She’s 56 and has endured decades of pain. “Oh, I had been suffering terribly for years,” Bobb tells us.
She was born with a malformation in her pelvis that led to pain. Over the span of two decades, she underwent more than a dozen major surgeries, yet none of them gave her relief; each procedure left more scar tissue and nerve damage.
“I felt desperate, ” Bobb says. “I didn’t feel like I had any control.”
She couldn’t do basic things such as cook — or take care of her family.
“I was completely debilitated,” Bobb says. “And when you get to that point, you can’t see beyond the pain — you’re just surviving.”
She was put on high doses of opioids to ease the constant pain, but then a few years ago she thought, “There just has to be a better way.” Ultimately, she found help at a clinic that specializes in complementary and alternative medicine.