Hypnosis for Acute or Chronic Pain Relief
The results from three lines of research have combined to create a renewed interest in the application of hypnosis for relief of chronic pain.
First, imaging studies demonstrate that the effects of hypnotic suggestions on brain activity are real and can target specific aspects of pain. Hypnosis for decrease in the intensity of pain result not only in significant decreases in pain intensity, but also decreases in activity in the brain areas that underlie the experience of pain intensity. At the same time, hypnotic suggestions for decrease in the unpleasantness of pain have significant effects on how bad the pain makes people feel. Interestingly, these suggestions result in decreases in activity in the areas of the brain responsible for processing the emotional aspect of pain
Second, research studies demonstrate that hypnotic treatments can save money. Hypnotic suggestions for reduced pain and improved healing have been shown to reduce the time needed for medical procedures, speed recovery time, and result in fewer pain medications needed — all of which not only result in more comfort for the patient, but save the patient and the patient’s insurance companies money. In a time of growing medical expenses, it’s nice to have a treatment that can actually result in cost savings.
Third, a rapidly growing body of research shows that hypnosis works, and when combined with other treatments, those other treatments become more effective. This research also reveals that hypnosis has many “side effects”, which are overwhelmingly positive, one of which is a greater sense of overall well-being and control.
For all of these reasons, more clinicians are seeking to learn how to apply hypnosis and to teach self-hypnosis to their patients who suffer with chronic pain. It is, of course, important that a serious medical condition is ruled out as a causative factor, before any modality that can block pain signals is applied.