Chronic pain is a widespread affliction, one with many potential causes and few effective long-term treatments. However, researchers from Canada believe that yoga, meditation and ki energy healing may help individuals overcome the worst symptoms of this debilitating condition.
The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) estimates that 75 million Americans have chronic aches and pains, two-thirds of whom suffer distress caused by diseases, physical disorders or traumatic accidents.
The AAPM also reports that in one year, at least 36 million adults reported missing work due to pain.
What can be done about it? Drugs, be they analgesics or more powerful prescription medications, may certainly moderate one's pain levels, but many healthcare professionals warn that these substances can lead to tolerance or even dependence.
By contrast, holistic and alternative methods rely less on chemicals than on harnessing the natural power of one's body. This force, called "ki" by Dahn Yoga students, pervades the body and connects the physical self to the psyche.
In a new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, scientists from the University of Alberta and Dalhousie University in Halifax strove to see whether yoga-based interventions can reduce chronic pain. They asked participants to try an eight-week yoga course, which included both group therapy and individualized, at-home exercises.
Researchers found that volunteers reported experiencing several benefits from this system. Some individuals said that they felt fewer aches, or that their perceived pain level had dropped somewhat. Others stated that their physical distress remained the same but that their tolerance for pain had increased a bit.
The team concluded that yoga, meditation and ki energy-related techniques may help individuals with chronic pain reduce their condition to manageable proportions.
It is critical that pain management methods be long-term. More than two-thirds of Americans with chronic pain have suffered from near-constant discomfort for more than five years, according to the AAPM.