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Yoga Practice Predicts Improvements in Day-to-Day Pain in Women With Metastatic Breast Cancer

      Abstract

      Context

      Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) experience a significant symptom burden, including cancer pain. Yoga is a mind-body discipline that has shown promise for alleviating cancer pain, but few studies have included patients with metastatic disease or examined the acute effects of yoga practice.

      Objectives

      To determine whether daily pain changed significantly during a randomized controlled trial of the Mindful Yoga program among women with MBC and whether time spent in yoga practice was related to daily pain.

      Methods

      On alternate weeks during the intervention period, we collected daily measures of pain from a subset of 48 women randomized to either yoga (n = 30) or a support group condition (n = 18). We also assessed daily duration of yoga practice among patients randomized to yoga.

      Results

      Pain levels were low for women in both conditions, and no differential treatment effects were found on daily pain. However, among women randomized to yoga, a dose/response relationship was found between yoga practice duration and daily pain. When patients had spent relatively more time practicing yoga across two consecutive days, they were more likely to experience lower pain on the next day. This finding is consistent with an earlier MBC study. Meditation practice showed the strongest association with lower daily pain.

      Conclusion

      Findings suggest that yoga practice (meditation practice in particular) is associated with acute improvements in cancer pain, and that yoga interventions may be more impactful if tested in a sample of patients with advanced cancer in which pain is relatively elevated.

      Key Words

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