Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Effect of Guided Imagery on Pain and Health-Related Quality of Life in Musculoskeletal Medicine: a Comprehensive Narrative Review

  • Alternative Treatments for Pain Medicine (M Jones, Section Editor)
  • Published:
Current Pain and Headache Reports Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Guided imagery (GI) is a non-pharmacological method used to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety. No comprehensive review has yet investigated the application of GI in musculoskeletal medicine, its various types, and potential mechanisms. The aim of this comprehensive narrative review was to examine the types of GI used in musculoskeletal medicine and GI effect on pain and health-related quality of life.

Recent Findings

A comprehensive narrative review of the English language scientific literature. PubMed, Google Scholar, ProQuest, and PEDro databases were searched from inception until August 2020 using keywords related to GI, musculoskeletal disorders, pain, and health-related quality of life. The search results generated 133 articles. After a critical analysis, 12 publications were included in this review. GI characteristics and protocols varied significantly between studies.

Summary

Based on the reviewed studies, we advocate GI as a safe, non-invasive technique that can assist in managing pain, depression, stress, fatigue, anxiety, reducing medication use, improving general well-being, wellness, and quality of life in patients with musculoskeletal disorders. We recommend further investigations of GI mechanisms.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  1. George RJ, Sam ST. Guided imagery: + child guided imagery = reduced pain, stress, and anxiety. Let your child get healed without pain and expenses. Asian J Nur Educ Res. 2017;7(1):79–85. https://doi.org/10.5958/2349-2996.2017.00017.9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bonadies V. Guided imagery as a therapeutic recreation modality to reduce pain and anxiety. Ther Recreation J. 2009;43(2):43–55.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Merriam-Webster. Medical Dictionary, guided imagery, 2015. Available at http://www.merriamwebster.com/medical/guided%20imagery. Accessed 8 Jan 2019.

  4. Kosslyn SM, Ganis G, Thompson WL. Neural foundations of imagery. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2001;2(9):635–42.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. National Center for Complementary Integrative Health. Relaxation techniques for health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress/relaxation.htm. Accessed 13 Dec 2017.

  6. Trakhtenberg EC. The effects of guided imagery on the immune system: a critical review. Int J Neurosci. 2008;118(6):839–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207450701792705.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Kaplan U, Epstein GN, Smith AS. Microdevelopment of daily well-being through mental imagery practice. Imagin Cogn Pers. 2014;34:73–96. https://doi.org/10.2190/IC.34.1.f.

  8. Taylor SL, Herman PM, Marshall NJ, et al. Use of complementary and integrated health: a retrospective analysis of US veterans with chronic musculoskeletal pain nationally. Med Complement Altern J. 2018;25(1):32–9. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2018.0276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Menzies V, Lyon DE, Elswick RK, et al. Effects of guided imagery on biobehavioral factors in women with fibromyalgia. J Behav Med. 2014;37(1):70–80. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-012-9464-7.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  10. Verkaik R, Busch M, Koeneman T, et al. Guided imagery in people with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial of effects on pain, functional status and self-efficacy. J Health Psychol. 2014;19(5):678–88. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105313477673.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Jacobson AF, Lewandowski W, Palmieri PA, et al. Feasibility trial of guided imagery and control interventions in mock subjects. Appl Nurs Res. 2011;24(1):45–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnr.2009.01.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Jacobson AF, Umberger WA, Palmieri PA, et al. Guided imagery for total knee replacement: a randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2016;22(7):563–75. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2016.0038.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  13. Torres E, Pedersen IN, Pérez-Fernández JI. Randomized trial of a Group Music and Imagery Method (GrpMI) for women with fibromyalgia. J Music Therapy. 2018;55(2):186–220. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/thy005.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Onieva-Zafra MD, García LH, Del Valle MG. Effectiveness of guided imagery relaxation on levels of pain and depression in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Holist Nurs Pract. 2015;29(1):13–21. https://doi.org/10.1097/HNP.0000000000000062.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Butcher HK, Parker NI. Guided imagery within Rogers’ science of unitary human beings: an experimental study. Nurs Sci Q. 1988;1(3):103–10. https://doi.org/10.1177/089431848800100305.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. Baird CL, Murawski MM, Wu J. Efficacy of guided imagery with relaxation for osteoarthritis symptoms and medication intake. Pain Manag Nurs. 2010;11(1):56–65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmn.2009.04.002.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Lewandowski WA. Patterning of pain and power with guided imagery. Nurs Sci Q. 2004;17(3):233–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318404266322.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Kaplun A, Roitman P, Rosenbloom T. Effects of brief guided imagery on female patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia: an exploratory controlled trial. Med Health Ther Altern. 2020;20.

  19. Case LK, Jackson P, Kinkel R, et al. Guided imagery improves mood, fatigue, and quality of life in individuals with multiple sclerosis: an exploratory efficacy trial of Healing Light Guided Imagery. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018;23:2515690X17748744. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515690X17748744.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Chen YL, Francis AJ. Relaxation and imagery for chronic, nonmalignant pain: effects on pain symptoms, quality of life, and mental health. Pain Manag Nurs. 2010;11(3):159–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmn.2009.05.005.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Lewandowski W, Jacobson A, et al. Biological mechanisms related to the effectiveness of guided imagery for chronic pain. Biol Res Nurs. 2011;13(4):364–75. https://doi.org/10.1177/1099800410.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Menzies V, Kim S. Relaxation and guided imagery in Hispanic persons diagnosed with fibromyalgia: a pilot study. Fam Community Health. 2008;31(3):204–12. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.FCH.0000324477.48083.08.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Epstein G. Healing visualizations. New York: Bantan Books; 1989.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Chadderdon AL, Carns DR, Pudalov LR, et al. Underlying mechanisms of psychological interventions in magnetic resonance imaging and image-guided radiology procedures. Top Magn Reson Imaging. 2020;29(3):157–63. https://doi.org/10.1097/RMR.0000000000000239.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Yijing Z, Xiaoping D, Fang L, et al. The effects of guided imagery on heart rate variability in simulated spaceflight emergency tasks performers. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015: 687020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/687020.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. Meeus M, Nijs J. Central sensitization: a biopsychosocial explanation for chronic widespread pain in patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Clin Rheum. 2007;26(4):465–73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-006-0433-9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Melzack R. From the gate to the neuromatrix. Pain. 1999;6:S121–6. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-3959(99)00145-1.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Melzack R. Pain and the neuromatrix in the brain. J Dent Educ. 2001;65(12):1378–82.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Banks Sarah J, Eddy KT, Angstadt M, Nathan PJ, et al. Amygdala–frontal connectivity during emotion regulation. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2007;2(4):303–12. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsm029.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. Benson H. The relaxation response. New York: William Morrow; 1975.

    Google Scholar 

  31. McCaffery M, Pasero C. Pain: clinical manual. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Menzies V, Taylor AG, Bourguignon C. Effects of guided imagery on outcomes of pain, functional status, and self-efficacy in persons diagnosed with fibromyalgia. J Altern Complement Med. 2006;12(1):23–30. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2006.12.23.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Batson G, Feltman R, McBride C, et al. Effect of mental practice combined with physical practice on balance in the community-dwelling elderly. Act Adapt Aging. 2006;31(2):1–18. https://doi.org/10.1300/J016v31n02_01.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Stephenson NL, Herman J. Research brief. Pain measurement: a comparison using horizontal and vertical visual analogue scales. Appl Nurs Res. 2000;13(3):157–8. https://doi.org/10.1053/apnr.2000.7658.

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Mrs. Phyllis Curchack Kornspan for her editorial services.

Funding

The authors did not receive support from any organization for the submitted work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

Anat Kaplun is a Ph.D. student. Her main research interest is the effect of guided imagery on various aspects of musculoskeletal morbidity. This comprehensive review was performed as a part of thesis preparation. Findings from this review contribute to her ongoing research. Deborah Alperovitch-Najenson, PT, Ph.D. Lecturer. Her main research interests are work-related musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomics. She co-supervised the project, provided expertise in review methodology and writing. Leonid Kalichman, PT, Ph.D. He is a primary supervisor and head of the Musculoskeletal Medicine Research Lab.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leonid Kalichman.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Alternative Treatments for Pain Medicine

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kaplun, A., Alperovitch-Najenson, D. & Kalichman, L. Effect of Guided Imagery on Pain and Health-Related Quality of Life in Musculoskeletal Medicine: a Comprehensive Narrative Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep 25, 76 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-021-00991-y

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-021-00991-y

Keywords

Navigation