I am dealing with a lingering lower back pain. I am not sure if it is chronic. Help me understand if it is and can mindfulness help?


Chronic lower back pain can indeed be quite challenging, particularly as it affects sleep quality when one is trying to get into a relaxed state. According to Dr. Sean Mackey, Chief of Pain Medicine at Stanford University, attentional distraction, such as engaging in activities like reading or spending time with friends, can help manage pain by utilizing specific brain networks for distraction 1. When it comes to mindfulness and pain, there're studies showing that approaching pain from a non-judgmental, accepting standpoint can be effective. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), originally developed by John Kabat-Zinn for people with lower back pain, has been proven to be beneficial, not only for chronic pain but also for conditions like anxiety and depression 2.

Mindfulness and cognitive reframing can help one accept and understand their pain without judgment, leading to more effective pain management. According to Dr. Mackey's discussion on the , it's important to differentiate between distraction and directly confronting the pain. He further noted that different strategies might work for different individuals and it depends on which approach works best for the person, given their specific situation 2.

It is important to consult with healthcare professionals about your lower back pain to determine if it is chronic and to receive personalized advice on pain management, including whether mindfulness would be a suitable strategy for you. Mindfulness may help to some extent but might not be sufficient as a sole treatment, so seeking a medical assessment is crucial.

Mindfulness and Pain Management

Andrew and Sean discuss the effectiveness of attentional distraction and meeting pain head-on as strategies for managing chronic pain. They explore the brain networks involved in distraction and how it can significantly reduce pain.

Huberman Lab

Dr. Sean Mackey: Tools to Reduce & Manage Pain