Health Advice



How to ease chronic pain with your mind

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Introduced to the U.S. by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1970s as a way to help patients who were not responding to medical treatment, mindful meditation is acknowledged to help people deal with difficult emotional and physical symptoms. "Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally," says Kabat-Zinn.

Now, researchers have looked at how that technique helps people reduce chronic pain. For their study, published in the journal Pain, they first did brain scans of participants to see how they reacted neurologically to painful heat on the skin and then did scans to see how they reacted when they did mindful meditation when painful heat was applied.

The researchers say mindfulness meditation altered communication between the parts of the brain involved in pain sensations and areas that give a person a sense of self. The hypothesis is that pain sensations still travel from the site of the pain to the brain but once there the participants didn't feel particularly attached to the pain sensations, so they felt them less. Whatever the cause, participants reported a 32% and 33% reduction in pain intensity and pain unpleasantness respectively.

If you're interested in reducing chronic pain, check out meditation instructions at and Also, many health care systems, like the Cleveland Clinic, have chronic pain centers that can instruct you in meditation, as well as provide an anti-inflammatory diet and encourage beneficial physical activity. The Clinic's program has been shown to reduce participants' chronic pain by over 60%.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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