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Meditation Helps U.S. Veterans To Fight Chronic Pain

Update Date: Feb 08, 2016 09:51 AM EST

Studies published in the journal Military Behavioral Health   show that veterans managed to reduce the intensity of their pain by 20 percent through meditation. While pain disturbed their life, including sleep, mood, and activity, meditation helped them to be consistent in the reduction of their pain levels.

Pain is common to 2.6 million service members who participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom since they started in 2001, according to Veterans Health Administration.

The most common pain conditions were a musculoskeletal pain, even as chronic pain occurred most of all in combat veterans with traumatic brain injuries, according to scienceworldreport.

"Meditation allows a person to accept pain and to respond to pain with less stress and emotional reactivity. Our theory is that this process increases coping skills, which in turn can help veterans to self-manage their chronic pain," said Thomas Nassif, Ph.D., a professorial lecturer in American University's Department of Health Studies, a researcher at the D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in a news release.

The mindfulness meditation technique called the Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra, or iRest, employed at Veterans Health Administration medical centers and active-duty military facilities all over the country, is used the most to help the veterans.

The Pain Management Task Force of the Army surgeon general has called iRest as a "Tier I intervention for managing pain in military and veteran populations," report the researchers.

"In many cases, primary care physicians are the ones expected to help individuals overcome their chronic pain," Nassif said. "One of the most commonly used tools we have in our toolbox is opioids. Veterans in this study and many who come to meditation sessions find that opioid medication is a short-term solution. Meditation could be a useful tool to help veterans manage their pain over the long term."

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