"It doesn't really change disease status. That didn't happen," she said. "But in terms of ability to cope with a chronic and debilitating condition, meditation did appear to be quite helpful. And there was really high satisfaction with the intervention. So, I think this bodes well for the future.
"The other thing I think is important to note about our study," Pradhan said, "is that mindfulness meditation can be combined with any rheumatological therapy. It is truly complementary medicine in that sense, done in addition to pharmacological or other intervention. So, for physicians and patients who wonder what they can do to improve well-being, beyond taking medications, this study offers evidence for a beneficial approach to dealing with the psychological distress of RA.
Dr. Stephen Lindsey, head of rheumatology at Ochsner Health Systems in Baton Rouge, La., applauded Pradhan and her team for managing to get a scientific handle on a phenomenon he has observed throughout his practice.
"If someone is having stress and trouble with their arthritis, if you can somehow decrease the stress, you might be able to increase their function," Lindsey said. "And when you're meditating, you're trying to relax your body and get rid of the tension. It doesn't necessarily have to be a meditation scheme. It could be yoga, or Pilates, or a self-help course. But I'm in favor of using everything possible to help people, and this would be just one more way to help patients improve their lives."
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