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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Managing Chronic Pain With Mind-Body Therapies

Oct 28, 2015 09:33PM
By Gary Kaplan, D.O.

If you have chronic pain, there is now a reason to add a regular yoga or mindfulness practice to your daily routine.

Chronic pain causes inflammation in the brain and can lead to a loss of gray matter. The areas of the brain that control self-awareness, emotions, memory and learning can all suffer when prolonged pain is present. Given new understanding of how the brain can regenerate, it is now known that this process can be reversed. Research shows that mind-body techniques such as meditation and yoga have proven to be beneficial in calming the inflammatory process caused by pain, which helps repair the brain.

A 2014 study published in Cerebral Cortex found that “regular and long-term yoga practice improves pain tolerance by teaching different ways to deal with sensory inputs and the potential emotional reactions attached to those inputs leading to a change in insular brain anatomy and connectivity.”

The study confirms what has been seen in patients for many years, and meditation and yoga therapy continue to be an integral part of effective treatment plans. While meditation and yoga therapy may not be the entire solution, there is enough evidence to show that these therapies, when part of an individual’s comprehensive treatment plan, will help to alleviate pain and depression, and leave one with a greater sense of well-being.

Dr. Gary Kaplan is the founder and medical director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, which offers patients suffering with chronic pain and illness an effective model of medical care, incorporating elements of conventional and alternative medicine. If you are interested in yoga therapy for your chronic pain, Laura Parris, MTS, of The Kaplan Center, offers several classes. For more info, contact 703-532-4892 or

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