Improve the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy with Mindfulness

Improve the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy with Mindfulness


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


Daily mindfulness practice can be helpful for people living with chronic pain because sometimes there are negative or worrisome thoughts about the pain. These thoughts are normal, and can affect mood and increase pain. Being able to focus on relaxing the body, noticing the breath and body sensations as being there just as they are, can help manage pain, as well as reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.” – Mayo Clinic


Diabetes can lead to a very painful condition known as diabetic neuropathy. The high blood glucose levels associated with diabetes can damage nerves and result in a burning pain and numbness, particularly from the legs and feet. It affects the majority of long-term diabetes patients. This is not only painful but is also disruptive to the normal life functions of these patients. There are no cures, but diabetic neuropathy can be prevented by blood glucose control in the diabetic patient with a rigorous program of measured diet and exercise. Treatment for diabetic neuropathy usually involves pain management with drugs.


Mindfulness practices have been shown to help with pain management and with quality of life in diabetes patients. and has been shown to improve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. It is important, then, to continue studying the effectiveness of mindfulness practices for reducing pain and improving quality of life in patients with diabetic neuropathy.


In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-Based Meditation Versus Progressive Relaxation Meditation: Impact on Chronic Pain in Older Female Patients With Diabetic Neuropathy.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Hussain and Said recruited elderly females with diabetes. They were randomly assigned to one of three condition, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), progressive muscle relaxation training, or a control condition consisting of 15 minutes of discussion and 20 minutes of quiet sitting. Treatment occurred twice a week for 8 weeks. MBCT consists of mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). During therapy the patient is trained to investigate and alter aberrant thought patterns underlying their reactions to their neuropathy. The participants were measured before and after training for pain, analgesia, impression of change in their condition, and patient satisfaction.


They found that in comparison to baseline and the control group both the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and progressive muscle relaxation groups had significant reductions in daily pain intensity and significant enhanced impression of change in their condition. In addition, the MBCT group had significant improvement in their satisfaction with treatment.


These results suggest that both Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and progressive muscle relaxation improve the daily pain of elderly female diabetic neuropathy patients and their perception of improvement in their condition. MBCT  would appear to be somewhat superior to progressive relaxation in improving the condition. This is important as these patients suffer greatly and the pain interferes with their ability to conduct their lives. The pain relief is most welcome.


So, improve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy with mindfulness.


in addition to improving pain, mindfulness also addresses the psychological consequences of chronic pain, including depression symptoms.” -0 Shanna Patterson


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ and on Twitter @MindfulResearch


Study Summary


Hussain, N., & Said, A. (2019). Mindfulness-Based Meditation Versus Progressive Relaxation Meditation: Impact on Chronic Pain in Older Female Patients With Diabetic Neuropathy. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X19876599. doi:10.1177/2515690X19876599



Chronic pain, the most common complication of diabetes, is treated with medication often to no avail. Our study aimed to compare the use of mindfulness meditation and progressive relaxation to reduce chronic pain in older females with diabetes. Methods The 105 study participants were divided randomly into 3 groups: Group MM (mindfulness meditation), Group CM (control meditation), and Group PM (progressive relaxation meditation). Assessment of analgesic effectiveness required changes in average daily pain Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) modified for painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy and Patient Global Impression of Change using descriptive statistics, Student’s t test, and analysis of variance where applicable. Results Both Groups MM and PM experienced significant (P < .05) reduction in average daily pain in last 24 hours at study end compared to baseline (28.7% and 39.7%, respectively). Group MM had more significant (P < .01) reduction of pain compared to control, a score of 5.2 ± 1.2 dropped to 3.0 ± 1.1 by week 12 of treatment. Groups MM and PM showed significant improvement in patients’ impression at study end, 75 ± 5.1% (n = 36) and 61 ± 6.5% (n = 32), respectively. In Group MM, patient satisfaction scores increased significantly (P < .05) to 3.8 ± 1.9 by week 12. Conclusion Integrative therapies such as mindfulness meditation can be part of a comprehensive pain management plan. Benefits include reduction of pain-related medication consumption, better treatment outcomes, improvement in comorbid conditions such as anxiety and depression as well as no risk of addiction or abuse.


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