Hypnosis for Pain Management

Let's face it, chronic pain is, well, it's a pain! It can affect how you live your life and many decisions you make. Pain influences how we interact with other people. And if you have chronic pain, you already know all this, right?

For years, doctors have prescribed physical therapy or pain medication to help their patients with pain. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn't. Short term, pain medication can be fine but long term use can lead to a number of other problems.

There are a number of alternative or complementary options for pain management: acupuncture, massage, yoga, and hypnosis, to name a few. Hypnosis has been studied for decades and widely used to help many people manage their pain level.

Often we'll get asked: How can hypnosis help me...the pain is not in my head! And yet, it is, sort of. You see, your brain decides what to do with the signals it receives from the injured part of the body. It's important to get a new injury or acute pain evaluated by a medical professional; but most chronic pain is often something that we're told we need to 'learn to live with.' And that's where hypnosis can greatly help.

If you want more information, contact us today.

"Hypnotherapy isn't magic, but it helps some patients cope with surgery and recovery"

Washington Post article

Clients often ask, "I have pain in my foot (back, whole body, etc.) not in my head. How can hypnosis help with my pain?"

I know it may sound odd to many people, but there is no pain without it being recognized and perceived as a danger in the brain. Have you ever notice a child who touches something very hot? For several seconds there is no reaction, if the parent immediately rushes over to comfort and reassure the child everything will be okay, the child often remains calm or calms quickly. The brain was reassured there is no great danger. But if the child is not tended to quickly, the brain perceives the tissue damage (from touching the hot item) as dangerous and reacts. It is within those first seconds that the nerves send a message to the brain and the brain decides what to do with the signal. I know this seems very complicated, and it is! Here is a link to another excellent YouTube video that explains the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ylbrkstYtU

"Over the past couple of decades there is a very solid evidence base that incorporating hypnosis during invasive conscious sedation medical procedures reduces anxiety, helps to control pain, decreases recovery time, and helps lower medical costs"

Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson

An example (and true story): A new homeowner in Washington cleaning out Himalayan blackberry vines. Those blackberries grow on very invasive vines that also have large thrones. After hours of clearing out the vines, and also enjoying eating a number of berries during the process, he stands back with pride looking at his accomplishment. He gathers the vines, ties them up and puts out for trash pick up. After several hours of sweaty work, he heads inside to shower off the dirt. Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, he sees for the first time all the scratches and gouges he sustained. And slowly, he begins to feel stinging pain and the pain intensifies at every injured site. What changed? He perceived no pain until he saw the bloody scratches. His brain received information that there was tissue damage and that must mean pain. But does it really?

We experience pain as a way of our body letting the brain know something has changed and doesn't seem 'right.' Perhaps an oversimplification explanation is that a signal is fired from the nerve, and very quickly is sent up the spinal cord into the brain. The brain quickly decides if the signal indicates something threatening or damaging and to what degree. The result of the brain's decision provides the extent of pain the person feels or perceives. A quick and excellent explanation about pain can be viewed on this YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_3phB93rvI

Hypnosis helps the mind/brain reinterpret the nerve signals and focus on something else. Many people don't know that over 100 years ago, hypnosis was used for people undergoing surgery. But then anesthesia drugs were developed and replaced hypnosis. Today, there is renewed interest and practice of using hypnosis before, during, and after surgery. Known as Hypnosedation, many prominent medical treatment facilities (MD Anderson), hospitals and universities are excited about the results of their trials.

"As with mindfulness meditation, hypnosis harnesses the brain's natural abilities to regulate the body and control the random thoughts that ricochet through our minds, says Dr. David Patterson, a University of Washington psychologist who has studied hypnosis since the 1980s, in a series of clinical trials financed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. But, he adds, meditation can take weeks or months of practice before it helps patients dial down pain. With hypnosis, "the relief is just a lot quicker and more dramatic."

According to a report from the National Institutes of Health , "Pain that persists for longer than 6 months is referred to as chronic pain (Keefe, 1982). Unrelieved chronic pain can cause considerable suffering, physical limitations, and emotional distress (Turk, 1996). Further, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for seeking medical care but often persists despite treatment with analgesics and physical modalities."

"Interest in hypnosis for pain management has increased with recent evidence that hypnosis can reduce pain (and costs) associated with medical procedures (Lang et al., 2000), and there are now an adequate number of controlled studies of hypnosis to draw meaningful conclusions from the literature regarding chronic pain (Jensen & Patterson, 2006; Montgomery, DuHamel, & Redd, 2000; Patterson & Jensen, 2003). Hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain generally, but not always, involves a hypnotic induction with suggestions for relaxation and comfort. Posthypnotic suggestions may be given for reduced pain that can continue beyond the session or that the patient can quickly and easily create a state of comfort using a cue (i.e., taking a deep breath and exhaling as eyelids close)."

Important note: At Essential Health & Hypnosis, we follow a strict process of doctor notification before any hypnosis for pain management is given. Usually, endorsement for hypnosis used to relieve chronic pain is provided by the doctor. Any new or acute pain should first be examined by a licensed medical doctor before any hypnosis is provided. At no time should prescribed medication be stopped or altered without prescribing doctor notification.