Hypnosis for Pain Management

Pain Awareness Month

September is Pain Awareness Month.   According to the Institute of Medicine, approximately 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.  Three years ago, I was one of those 100 million.  Did you know that Hypnosis can help with pain management?   The American Psychological Association states “A meta-analysis (a study of studies) in 2000 of 18 published studies by psychologists Guy Montgomery, PhD, Katherine DuHamel, PhD, and William Redd, PhD, showed that 75% of clinical and experimental participants with different types of pain obtained substantial pain relief from hypnotic techniques. Thus, hypnosis is likely to be effective for most people suffering from diverse forms of pain, with the possible exception of a minority of patients who are resistant to hypnotic interventions. Drs. Patterson and Jensen indicate that hypnotic strategies are equivalent or more effective than other treatments for both acute and chronic pain, and they are likely to save both money and time for patients and clinicians.” (http://www.apa.org/research/action/hypnosis.aspx)

How does hypnosis work for managing pain?  The sensation of pain is something that comes from the brain.  The body part that is injured sends a signal up to the brain and the brain responds by sending a sensation of pain to let us know there’s something wrong.  Hypnosis doesn’t try to convince you that the pain doesn’t exist.  It teaches you to manage the fear and anxiety related that can exacerbate the pain.   Fear and anxiety causes the body to tense, adding to the sensation.  By redirecting your attention to something else, and bringing your mind/body back to your natural, relaxed state, that sensation of pain lessens.   

I’ve personally had success using hypnosis for a chronic lower back pain I suffered with for two years.   The first of the two years, I struggled to walk, lay down, or sit comfortably…. anyone who’s had lower back issues, understands what I’m saying.  I lived on Ibuprofen for that first year.   I went to two different Chiropractors and a Physical Therapist.   By the time I saw the Physical Therapist, I was scared to do anything that might make the injury worse (translation = I avoided doing anything outside of the bare minimum if I could help it).  Meanwhile, my muscles atrophied and my stress climbed.   I realized that I couldn’t live the rest of my life in that state, so with the help of my Physical Therapist (who pushed me to be active) I was eventually able to walk short distances and close to a normal pace.  I was recovering, but I was still afraid to do anything beyond what my PT showed me every week.  And I was still not returning to my active lifestyle I had before.    

Hypnosis was my last resort.  And it worked.  Within 10 visits, the pain had lessened so significantly, there were times I completely forgot about it.   Today, I’m pain free.   Through my sessions,  I reversed the trauma I experienced in those two years and let go of my fear of re-injuring myself.   Having gained back some confidence allowed me to relax and eventually begin exercising and strengthening my core again.   Daily self hypnosis and visualizations were tools that the Hypnotherapist gave me that I continue to use to this day. 

Pain management is just one reason why I so passionately believe in the work I do.  Hypnosis is an amazing self help tool to have in our back pockets to help us with many challenges!