Pain Management Through Hypnosis
Chronic pain is a significant problem for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients that can play a huge factor in a person’s quality of life. Although there are hundreds of medications and therapies out there for pain management, relief is usually followed with a line of side effects. This article explores the concept of an alternative medicine: Hypnosis- the method of reaching healing powers within your subconscious mind. And no, we’re not talking about a sideshow act where the hypnotist is trying to get a good laugh out of the audience.
This form of hypnosis focuses on the connection of the body and mind and is known to increase feelings of well-being, reduce anxiety, help with sleep, and control over body pain. Pain is usually categorized into two categories – acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is the sensation that takes place before we begin healing, where your body tells you something is wrong. Chronic pain is what remains after the healing process has begun and continues for months or years after.
Long term discomfort is proven to be significantly more difficult to heal through hypnosis because there are many factors and complications that can greatly affect a patient’s mental receptiveness. This includes but is not limited to physiological stress, pain source, resentment to their condition, deactivation, and guarding. Some spinal cord injury patients may expect hypnosis to essentially cure them of the pain when, in truth, hypnosis makes it more manageable. The focus is more energy and willingness to participate in exercise and physical therapy. It also is shown to improve sleep and avoid disruptions due to pain. These things increase a patient’s quality of life.
Hypnosis has proven to work significantly for acute pain scenarios. For example, burn patients have been hypnotized in the emergency room to feel a cooling sensation on the burned area. A study done by Ewin (1978) stated that patients experienced more comfort and faster wound healing with this approach. This alternative form of treatment can also be used to ease muscle tension which is highly associated with pain. With hypnotherapy, the patient is aroused into physical relaxation such as “floating” or “lightness” to relax the muscles.
During hypnosis, mental clarity and positivity can be used to change one’s subconscious and, in effect, prevent pain receptors from registering in the brain. Hypnosis turns off this conscious part of the brain to kick start into alpha brain waves, allowing the mind to become more attentive and open to changing the signals sent to the body. Essentially, this form of treatment changes the way patients perceive pain messages and are able to decrease activity in the part of the brain that experiences pain intensity. Those who undergo this form of treatment train the active part of the brain to modify how they allow pain to make them feel.
Hypnotherapy has begun to be widely used throughout the medical industry. According to the International Journal of Clinical and experimental Hypnosis, this treatment has been known not only help chronic pain in SCI patients but also assist in the treatment of mental disorders, addiction, burn victims, and so much more.
With its increasing popularity, more doctors and clinics are exploring hypnotherapy as a new method to attack pain. The great thing about hypnosis is that it can be used alongside your prescribed medications or solo. In a time of expensive medical bills, it’s nice to explore a treatment that can reduce your cost of pain management. If this form of treatment is something you’re interested in, talk to your doctor about discovering this alternative option.
Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain, Elkins et al.
Profile of Perpetual-cognitive Traits and Personality Style of Possible Relevance to Creative Productivity, Ewing et al.
Trance and treatment: clinical uses of hypnosis, Speigal et al.