Group reading relieves chronic pain, study says
You may not feel it, but physical pain and mood often feed into each other. This could be why some of our patients with chronic back pain also experience anxiety and depression. But if there’s one thing we do know, all pain involves your nervous system, and a new study shows how group reading can reduce pain by positively affecting your body’s nerve signals.
This therapeutic activity, known as Shared Reading, is pioneered by The Reader, a charity organization aiming to improve quality of life through literature.
In this study, small groups of people with chronic pain met for Shared Reading sessions weekly. By reading aloud together, participants were able to connect with each other using varied reading material, such as novels, short stories and poetry — but the added health benefits were even more surprising.
Participants in Shared Reading groups reported:
- Relief from some aspects of their conditions
- Improved concentration, mood and quality of life
- Overcoming social isolation caused by depression
- Developing a sense of belonging
- Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
The study also notes that people with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing mood or anxiety disorders, while depressed patients have three times the average risk of developing chronic pain. By learning how to combat the negative effects pain has on your mood, you may be able to feel better physically.
Shared Reading participants were able to improve their physical and mental health by taking breaks to share stories, relate to the reading material and become consciously aware of their deeper emotions. Outside of their Shared Reading groups, participants also reported changes in their exercise routines, pain coping strategies and a renewed sense of value for previous activities.
With a minimal risk of side effects, reading to relieve chronic pain sounds like a pretty good idea. If you’re living with a chronic spine condition, reading in a group could be another way to feel better. If conservative therapies haven’t relieved your chronic neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive spine procedures may be able to help you.