Chronic pain! Does Hypnosis work?

Chronic pain is becoming very common among people all over the world. As per researchers, it is estimated that more than 1.5 billion individuals are affected by this globally. The National Institute of Health (NIH), America reports that it has affected people more than diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart ailments. It is slowly becoming a ‘silent epidemic’. The most common treatment option for treating chronic pain has been medications but those have side effects. People are looking for alternative options and one such is hypnosis. Many articles suggest that hypnosis works but if you are wondering how it works, read below to learn more.

What is pain?

It is a signal the brain gets from the body that something’s not right. It is mainly sent so that further damage is prevented.

Pain can be classified into two types

  • Acute: It is pain that remains for the short-term and is caused because of an illness or an accident. It is a temporary symptom and there are many ways through which it can be reduced like taking pain killers
  • Chronic: This is a type of pain which is long-term and is a result of some medical condition. Sometimes it can be more complicated as the obvious cause is not known. Headaches, back pain, arthritis, cancer, etc are some of the conditions for chronic pain.

Managing pain: 

It is essential to consider pain management techniques when it is chronic as it seriously affects the quality of life of a person suffering from it. There may be times when getting out of bed also becomes difficult and that can further aggravate the issue as the body stiffens and lessen the muscle strength. It not only affects your physical health but also your mental and emotional health too. Exercise is considered as one of the options for pain relief and also to stay active, it can be through gentle exercises like yoga, walking, etc.

Physical therapy along with medications is also recommended as part of treatment which involves pain relief exercises like stretching and manipulation of muscles. But with medications come side effects hence alternative treatment options like hypnosis is a good option as it involves mind and body. Studies show that hypnotherapy helps in reducing pain and associated emotional duress. Julia Cannon of explains that guided hypnotherapy with a professional allows you to be in a state of heightened awareness and is useful for those looking for help coping with anxieties.”

Hypnosis and its origin

Hypnosis is believed to have been present since the biblical age and started around 1500 BC. It is said that physical ailments were treated by Greeks and Egyptians in ancient times through mystical practices like ‘Hypnos’, ‘dream temples’, etc. It is thought that until chloroform was used in 1832 many forms of hypnosis were used as anesthesia. As the 20th century approached, it was being used in clinical psychotherapy as it became more accepted.

Hypnosis is a procedure or a set of techniques that can improve concentration, reduce distractions and increase responsiveness to ideas so that the thoughts, behavior, feelings or the physiological state is altered. It can be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies and is not a treatment by itself. It focuses on the body and mind relationship to manage emotional stress and symptoms like pain and behavioral issues like binge eating, smoking, etc.

How does hypnosis work?

The physical sensation of pain does not happen because of the injury you suffered it is more of a feeling that is generated by the brain. The actual broken or injured part does not feel the pain but it is all the working of the brain. It sends a signal that something is wrong and then it processes all the earlier trauma information it has over the lifetime and projects pain back down. So pain is more of a construct of mind rather than body.

In hypnosis, the part of the brain that is conscious is temporarily turned down and the therapist asks the participant to relax and remove distractions. The mind is made to become more focused and concentrated so that it can be used powerfully. The experience of hypnosis is different for everyone some call it soothing, peaceful, comfortable and relaxed while others called it a trance. Some physiological changes happen like slowing of pulse and respiration and the person readily accepts suggestions by therapists like reducing pain.

There are two ways in which hypnosis happens and that is:

  • Relaxation: The body goes into a trance and it helps it to relax, release the tension in the muscles which is the main cause of pain
  • Perpetual alteration: Once the body and mind are in a relaxed state the perceptions of pain is changed by hypnotherapists using techniques like a distraction, numbing, disassociation and reframing.

When the mind is distracted, pain is sent out of thoughts and the pain can be reduced and in some cases completely removed.

Does hypnosis work?

There is compelling evidence to show that there is a reduction of pain in people who undergo hypnotherapy. Pain management through hypnosis has been researched, trials have been conducted on various types of hypnotherapy and all the results have shown that there is a reduction in back pain, surgical pain, cancer, arthritis, and even labor pain.

Some of the benefits of hypnosis are:

  • Has a great influence on pain rather than pain sensation
  • Is equally effective compared to other treatments for chronic pain
  • Improved sleep, reduced stress and anxiety and reduced need for pain medications
  • It can save money, time and increase the efficiency of other treatments.

If you have chronic pain it is important to seek medical help, which is not necessarily only medical but also alternate options to drugs for pain relief.  Hypnosis can change the way you cope with pain but ensure that you use the expertise of experienced professionals to get the best benefits. A combination of treatments can help manage pain.