Practicing mindfulness meditation has shown a reduction in stress and fatigue associated with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study published by the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
Researchers evaluated 67 patients (ages 20 to 70) with rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis for at least 12 months, and patients were randomly assigned to participate in either 10 group sessions of mindfulness exercises over 15 weeks, plus a booster session 6 months after the end of the course, or to standard care plus a CD containing similar mindfulness exercises for home use, an emaxhealth report explained.
During the mindfulness sessions, patients were led by trained professionals and encouraged to deal with their limitations and emotions, and to practice awareness. Creative exercises including music, drawing and guided imagery were also part of the sessions, the report stated.
The results showed people who attended the sessions showed less stress and fatigue – specifically 11 of the 13 patients who had had high stress scores before attending the sessions subsequently scored lower at the 12-month follow-up.
Fatigue levels also were significantly reduced at 12 months among the patients who participated in mindfulness compared with the control group, who reported no change.
According to the authors of the rheumatoid arthritis study, their findings “indicate that the participants may have incorporated some mindfulness strategies into their daily lives and that these strategies have strengthened their ability to respond to their stressful experience in a more flexible way,” the report stated.