Many find self-hypnosis effective as an adjunct treatment to help providepain relief. With theses tools and methods, you can help you learn to diminish and eliminate your own pain for a wide variety of diseases and conditions. It is one of several relaxation methods for alleviating chronic pain that has been approved by an independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Because of the correlation between stress and pain, oftentimes people find that when they actively and regularly practice hypnosis or imagery they can manager their own pain in a much more effective way. Mental imagery in different modalities has been shown to activate cerebral areas involved in the actual sensory processing. (e.g. Bensafi, et al., 2003; Halpern, Zatorre, Bouffard, & Johnson, 2004; Klein, Paradis, Poline, Kosslyn, & Le Bihan, 2000; Kosslyn, et al., 2001).
Here are some common sources of pain where Hypnosis and Guided Imagery has helped:
POST-OPERATIVE PAIN: “Numerous studies over the years show that Hypnosis is a highly effective form of reducing pain and anxiety for people undergoing surgery. This also leads to improved recovery after the surgery due to less anxiety and pain associated with the procedure. In one study, recovery time for patients was reduced by half. I highly recommend Peggy Huddleston’s book Prepare for Surgery
ARTHRITIS: Many people are turning to hypnosis for pain management due to arthritis. According to Arthritis Today magazine, Hypnosis is recognized as a Complimentary Therapy for pain alleviation. Here is a citation from their website:
Joseph Barber, PhD, a clinical professor of anesthesiology and rehabilitation at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, uses hypnosis to treat arthritis pain. One patient, a 73-year-old grandmother with severe pain from knee osteoarthritis, couldn’t tolerate anti-inflammatory drugs. With just three Hypnosis treatments – an unusually fast response – the pain in her knee decreased and she was able to return to normal daily activity.
An analysis of 18 studies of Hypnosis and pain in more than 900 people conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York bears out this grandmother’s experience, showing substantial pain relief in 75 percent of participants.”
BACK PAIN: Stress can have a cumulative effect on your health. Dr. John Sarno, author of Mind Over Back Pain, asserts that through years of research and treatment on patients who suffer from back pain, he is convinced that the mind and body are inseparable and interactive.” Furthermore, he says that in many cases of people who suffer with chronic pain, it is emotional stressors that are the perpetuators of back pain as opposed to a fundamental structural abnormality.
HEADACHES & MIGRAINES: If you know that stress plays a part in the onset or frequency of the migraines, you can use hypnosis to help. Hypnosis has been shown to help with the symptoms of chronic pain and other illnesses. It was first recommended by the AMA in 1954 for pain alleviation. It is fantastic for this. I have seen women using it for natural, painless, childbirth. I have seen training films of surgeries performed without anesthesia.
Beyond stress factors, have worked with many clients to look at the deeper meaning for their migraines. Deepak Chopra, M.D. and many other doctors are now acknowledging that pain and illness can serve an unconscious purpose in our lives.
One woman I worked with got them at work on a regular basis and by working with me became enlightened that she hated her job and she wasn’t living her life purpose and the migraines were the result of an inner tug-of-war going on pushing her away from a job she hated.
Another woman discovered that her migraines were triggered by repressed anger. As we worked together to give her the tools to creatively empower her life, the migraines began to subside and then disappeared.
Studies have been conducted showing that Hypnotherapy offers a natural, safe solution without side effects for many headache and migraine sufferers. In many studies, Hypnosis has been shown to be more beneficial and have longer lasting results compared to the use of medications.
One study compared the effect of Hypnotherapy versus the prescription medication prochlorperazine (Stemetil). The study consisted of 47 participants who reported feedback every month for a year. They reported number of attacks per month, severity of attacks, and complete remission. Results of the study showed that those who received Hypnotherapy reported far fewer migraine attacks compared to those who received medication. Out of 23 participants who received hypnotherapy, 10 of them ceased to experience migraines. Out of the 24 participants who used medication, 3 of them ceased to experience migraines.
Another study reported the benefits of behavioral therapy. These approaches include relaxation, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and hypnosis. Hypnosis can help migraine sufferers avoid triggers such as controlling stress and avoiding certain foods.
Two hypnotherapy techniques used in treating migraines include the hand warming and glove anesthesia. These techniques put migraine sufferers in control of their pain by helping them transfer warmth or numbness to their head where their head hurts. These techniques were shown to be more beneficial than simple relaxation exercises. This study concluded that medication is ineffective in treating chronic migraines and supports psychological treatment because there are no side effects.
- Anderson, J.A., Basker, M.A., & Dalton, R. (1975). Migraine and hypnotherapy. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 23(1), 48-58.
- Heap, M. (1988). Hypnosis: current clinical, experimental and forensic practices. Taylor & Francis.
- Sandor, P.S. & Afra, J. (2007). Nonpharmacologic treatment of migraine. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 9(3), 202-205.