Mindfulness meditation for arthritis


Mindfulness meditation is an approach that some people use to treat their arthritis symptoms. The information below will help you understand more about this therapy, if it can help with your symptoms of arthritis, and how to find a provider.

What is mindfulness meditation?

A woman meditating in an office space with a coworker in the backgroundMindfulness practices have been used in many cultures for thousands of years. However, it is only recently that meditation and mindfulness have become more widely accepted as a form of stress relief and pain management in western medicine. Research suggests that regular practice has a strong connection to overall health and wellbeing and that it may help with managing stress and pain. 

How does mindfulness meditation work?

Mindfulness for pain management works by helping you learn how to reframe feelings of pain, and any negative emotions associated with it. Gradually through practice you may be able to change your response to pain. Mindfulness, other forms of meditation, and relaxation can’t take away the pain but can help you better approach and manage it. Since tense muscles amplify pain in the joints, relaxing them can lower the amount of pain you may experience.

When practicing mindfulness for pain management, it may be helpful to also work with a licensed psychologist or social worker who can help you navigate negative emotions and feelings related to the pain you experience. Being able to re-frame any emotion attached to pain can help you manage expectations, as well as develop goal setting skills, and coping strategies that can help with pain management.  

Can mindfulness meditation be used to treat arthritis symptoms?

Meditation can be an effective way to help you re-frame your experiences of arthritis pain. 

Everyone's experience with meditation is different. For some, it can take time for mindfulness practices to feel helpful in managing pain. 

A kid sitting criss cross meditatingThere are many ways to practice mindfulness. Some of these activities can involve laying down or sitting upright in a chair and following along with a recorded guided meditation, or could include more informal practices, such as going for a mindful walk, breathing exercises, taking notice of food textures while eating, paying attention to all of your senses while doing an everyday activity, or spending time in nature. 

Journaling is another practice that can help you take notice of any pain or discomfort you experience. It can also be a grounding exercise to keep track of your feelings and emotions that may impact the way you experience pain.

How do I find a provider?

Using guided mindfulness meditations available for free or a small fee online can be a low cost way to try mindfulness. However if you are looking to try mindfulness with the help of a professional, classes are sometimes offered through pain clinics, licensed psychologists or social workers specializing in pain management, or through community health centre programs. You may also find free options through some provincial health care plans. Ask your healthcare team about options for mindfulness meditation for pain management in your area. 

Like other complementary therapies, mindfulness meditation is not a replacement for medication or other forms of treatment; however, meditation might be an effective complement to other pain management treatments. It is best to consult with your health care team if you wish to make any changes to your medications or treatment plans. 


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