Mindfulness exercises, which focus on experiencing the present moment, can help curb the stress and fatigue associated with painful rheumatoid joint disease, according to a study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
The study included 73 patients between the ages of 20 and 70, all of whom had painful joint disease caused by rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis for at least a year. Half of the patients were randomly allocated to participate in 10 group sessions of mindfulness exercises over a 15-week period. The other half was given standard care plus a CD containing similar exercises for use at home.
The exercises encouraged participants to deliberately concentrate on feelings, thoughts and bodily experiences, including pain, without judgement. Participants were also given creative exercises, such as guided imagery, music and drawing.
Stress levels, coping abilities and symptom control, including pain and fatigue, were assessed after the 10 sessions had finished. In total, 67 participants completed all the assessments, and these showed no differences in pain levels or disease activity. But there were significant differences in levels of stress and fatigue.
The individuals participating in the mindfulness group sessions had a greater long-term reduction in stress compared to the standard care group. They also had a tangible reduction in fatigue levels compared to no such change in the standard care group.
The lasting improvements found with the mindfulness exercises “indicate that the participants may have incorporated some mindfulness strategies into their daily lives and that these strategies have strengthened their ability to respond to their stressful experience in a more flexible way,” the authors say.
Health benefits of mindfulness exercises:
- Reduces anxiety.
- Increases sense of wellbeing.
- Improves sleep quality.
- Sharpens awareness.
Acupuncture & Massage College’s Community Clinic offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director.