Not much evidence is available. But here’s what 2 researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania discovered during their review of 20 published studies.

Most studies included people who were at least 50 years of age.

Osteoarthritis pain

  • Some support for progressive muscle relaxation plus guided imagery

Low back pain or osteoarthritis

  • Limited support for meditation and tai chi
  • One report on biofeedback concluded both older and younger adults had significant reductions in pain.

The bottom line?
Read the first sentence.

Looking beyond the data, Dr. Hilary Tindle, who is also from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, writes that mind body medicine “focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect health.”

Examples include the following.

  • Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and the relaxation response
  • Guided imagery
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Mediation

“Mind-body therapies are generally safe, inexpensive, and already used widely,” says Dr. Tindle. “Mind-body therapies may be particularly suitable to certain populations, such as the elderly, where there is a higher risk of medication interactions.”

She concludes, “Further study is needed to understand more fully how hypnosis and other mind body therapies for pain work in general and in particular.”

8/1/07 09:19 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.