Mindfulness for neuropathic pain: A case study
School of Arts and Humanities
Neuropathic pain (NP) is a debilitating chronic pain state that affects approximately 6-8% of the general population. Limited success in pharmacological treatments has led to the rise of psychological therapy in attempts to reduce pain intensity. One such therapy is Mindfulness: a meditative practice concerned with purposeful and non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. Whilst Mindfulness has demonstrated its effectiveness in alleviating symptoms of a number of psychological disorders and symptoms of chronic pain, little evidence is available to determine whether its practice is associated with improvements in pain intensity in individuals suffering from NP. The following is a case study of a 62-year-old female (LU), who for the past 18 years has experienced chronic Neuropathic Pain (NP) as a result of a stroke. The current study examined the relationship between 12 weeks of daily Mindfulness practice and immediate, short-term and long-term self-reported pain levels. An additional goal was to explore the impact of Mindfulness on psychological functioning and well-being following the 12-week period of Mindfulness practice. LU showed a clinically meaningful reduction in pain immediately following Mindfulness practice. An overall reduction in ‘Continuous’, ‘Neuropathic’ and ‘Affective’ type pain was observed at post intervention but was not maintained at follow up. The results of the psychological functioning and well-being measures were mixed, with a notable reduction in in the domains of emotional reactivity, depression and stress. These results provide preliminary support for the use of Mindfulness in managing chronic pain of a neuropathic nature. The results are discussed in relation to practice factors.