Mindfulness is one of the least discussed topics between spine providers and patients, however, it is probably one of the most important. Stress, anxiety, and fear play a large role in our perceptions of pain. This is especially true for chronic pain (pain beyond 3 months). After failing non-operative treatments, many people with spine conditions can benefit from surgery. However, some conditions do not have effective surgical treatments. An example of this is chronic neck and back pain from degenerative discs and/or arthritic facet joints. These patients often find themselves between a rock and a hard place since they have tried every available form of non-operative treatment, but yet still suffer from disabling pain. Understanding one’s condition can help decrease anxiety and fears. This can help them manage their pain by having a better understanding of the cause.
Some patients with chronic pain are looking for a cure. However, often times there is no cure. The treatment is managing symptoms. This can be difficult for patients to accept and may lead them to see multiple healthcare providers for the same complaints. Mindfulness can help reshape your relationship with mental and physical pain. This can be done thru meditation. Some patients benefit from working with a professional (i.e., psychiatrist, psychologist) to help manage emotional and mental stress which may be impacting their ability to cope with chronic pain. Adequate sleep also plays an important role in maintaining strong mental health and is crucial to our overall physical well-being.