Can Hypnosis Help To Eliminate Pain?
By Charles Hopkins
Published 07/6/2006 | Health
Pain is a subject that touches everyone. After all, it is a human condition from which we all suffer at one time or another. There are headaches, dental procedures, sports injuries, broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, and psychosomatic pain.
Research shows that 75% to 80% of all adults will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis pain and as many as 45 million suffer from chronic, recurring headaches. There are thousands of people every year who suffer the agony of surgical interventions and thousands more who endure the pain of debilitating or terminal illnesses.
All of this pain falls into two basic categories: (1) acute pain, which is of short duration and (2) chronic pain, which continues for weeks, months or years.
Most people respond to pain - whether acute or chronic - by taking drugs of some kind. But drugs are often a temporary solution.
What few people realize is that the ancient art of hypnosis offers a safe, effective alternative for reducing sensitivity to pain.
Hypnosis has been shown effective in the management of various types of pain. Besides providing an effective solution for maladies such as headaches and acute injuries, hypnosis offers a unique solution for those suffering from chronic conditions like back pain and arthritis as well as intermediate and advanced stages of cancer. Studies show that patients with chronic diseases require fewer painkillers to achieve pain relief when they practice hypnosis. These same patients exhibit fewer signs of anxiety and experience greater comfort during medical procedures.
Hypnosis also has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.
The most effective approach for acute pain appears to be the use of hypnotic suggestions focusing on anxiety reduction and minimizing the importance of the pain. For chronic pain, it is more effective to confront the pain directly under hypnosis, dealing with both the pain's physical and psychological effects.
Another area where hypnosis offers significant positive results is in dealing with pre- and post-operative patients. Using hypnosis in preparation for surgery has been shown to reduce the experience of pain during surgery, resulting in the need for less anesthetics. Hypnosis as a pain management tool with surgical patients also has been shown to reduce nausea and greatly increase the recovery rate in most patients, thereby truncating the length of time spent in the hospital. (That creates another rarely mentioned positive result: reduced medical costs!)
But efficacy and lower medical expenses are not the only positives related to the use of hypnosis for pain management. This modality has no dangerous side effects. Unlike medications, hypnosis does not become less effective with use and does not require stronger and stronger doses to cope with pain. While patients may have to ingest costly medications several times a day for years, they have the potential for reducing or eliminating their pain in just a few hypnotic sessions for significantly less cost.
Does hypnosis always work? In the area of pain control, everyone can be helped to SOME degree. There are essentially five categories into which subjects fall:
1. Those who find total and permanent relief.
2. Those that have a decrease in the severity of pain.
3. Those who experience pain relief initially, but who need occasional reinforcement.
4. Those that experience intermittent relief.
5. Those that still have pain, but feel 10-30% less pain than before.
What accounts for these differences in relief? The answer appears to be the patient's susceptibility to hypnosis - the level of relaxation reached during the hypnotic sessions. The deeper the relaxation, the more effective the pain reduction.
Certainly, no treatment for pain - whether chemical, physical or psychological - is effective all the time. However, hypnosis has shown over and over again that it can help people reduce or eliminate both acute and chronic pain. Best of all, it works its magic without any side effects.
As a safe, effective alternative for reducing sensitivity to pain, hypnosis is second to none.