Background: Chronic pain is a common presentation to general practice.
Objective: This article explores the role of the mind in the experience of pain and describes how mind-body techniques can be used in the management of chronic pain.
Discussion: The mind, emotions and attention play an important role in the experience of pain. In patients with chronic pain, stress, fear and depression can amplify the perception of pain. Mind-body approaches act to change a person's mental or emotional state or utilise physical movement to train attention or produce mental relaxation. They are occasionally used as a sole treatment, but more commonly as adjuncts to other therapies. Mind-body approaches include progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, laughter, mindfulness based approaches, hypnosis, guided imagery, yoga, biofeedback and cognitive behavioural therapy. Studies have shown that mind-body approaches can be effective in various conditions associated with chronic pain, however levels of evidence vary. Group delivered courses with healthcare professional input may have more beneficial effects than individual therapy. General practitioners are well placed to recommend or learn and provide a range of mind-body approaches to improve outcomes for patients with chronic pain.