Can Meditation Help You Recover Faster After Surgery?
Meditation vs medication, is one better than the other? In the past couple of blogs, we discussed knee treatment options, how to prepare for a knee surgery and how to find the right hospital for your surgery. In this blog we consider the recovery process and meditation for making it less painful and faster.
You have probably heard a lot about the health benefits of meditation. Not only from people that practice it but also from medical researchers and doctors that are offering us the results and conclusions of their studies. Here are just a couple of examples. American Heart Association added meditation to their cardiovascular risk reduction statement. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University showed that it can also reduce inflammation and, therefore, overall health.
It is a relatively inexpensive and available tool to many of us – all you have to do is find a space free of distractions and spend 15-30 min a day practicing it. In addition, there are many apps that offer guided assistance on your device as well as gurus available for private sessions.
Can meditation help us recover faster and be in less pain after the surgery? Well, some studies suggest that yes, it is possible. The two main areas that show improvement when someone practice it are: decrease of pre-op anxiety and pain management after the surgery.
Pre-Op Anxiety and Meditation
Anxiety before surgery is common. Increased levels of anxiety may even affect the patient’s surgical course and increase post-operative pain. When people are stressed and/or anxious their immune system can be compromised. The stress hormones released into the bloodstream negatively affect the immune system, thus fewer resources are left to recover quickly from a medical procedure. Studies show that pre-op anxiety can lead to slower recovery and depression. Guided meditation, however, has been shown to relieve anxiety. 
Pain Management After Surgery
Using pain drugs after surgery is an established way to address the issue of post-operative pain. In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of the painkillers’ addiction that may arise from such situation. Doctors have been looking into ways to relieve the pain without relying on narcotics. A study published in 2011 in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that meditation can reduce physical pain. How meditation works in our brain to handle pain is not yet clearly defined. Some may say that meditation is no different than a placebo effect. However, some doctors present us with novel evidence that mindfulness meditation produces greater pain relief and employs distinct neural mechanisms than placebo. It shows us that meditation reduces pain through unique mechanisms. 
To Meditate or Not to Meditate
As you can probably see the benefits can be great and the cost is very low. Why not give it a try and see for yourself? There is no harm or downside and if this works for you, just think how many things can improve. Do let us know if it makes a positive impact on your life and in what way – we would love to hear what you think!