Hypnosis for Pain Management
Pain is an instantaneous feedback mechanism for the body and mind. According to the British Journal of Anaesthesia (B.J.A. 2010) “Pain-related problems account for up to 80% of visits to physicians” The question as to whether acute pain causes chronic pain still continues as further research is necessary, owing to the many complexities of nociception; the process whereby a sensory neuron or nociceptor, responds to suggested threats by sending nerve signals to the spinal cord and brain, which can cause the perception of pain. Therefore pain is subjective and as such a multi disciplinary approach is a preferred treatment for chronic pain sufferers.
What is Hypnosis
Hypnosis has best been described by eminent psychiatrist Milton .H. Erickson (1967) as “ a communication of ideas and understandings to a patient in such a fashion that he will be most receptive to the presented ideas and thereby motivated to explore his own body potentials for the control of his psychological and physiological responses and behaviour” Therefore it would seem prudent to utilise hypnosis within the treatment of a chronic pain patient. Seeking to interrupt the nociception process by introducing many new thoughts and mental stimuli to the client.
The difference between acute and chronic pain
If you are suffering from acute pain then your first stop should be a medical doctor or hospital. You will need to uncover the cause of your pain, which can range from a sprain to appendicitis and much more. Often, once the cause has been realised, the pain will subside, if you were to think of the pain as an alarm bell, it has alerted you and now that you have taken action, it can switch off.
Continual or Chronic Pain this is where pain persists over time for example: arthritis, sciatica, backache, frozen shoulder, migraine. There is also pain owing to post-operative surgery, dental work, cancer and other illnesses. In such cases the alarm is still ringing long after it is necessary and it is with these particular cases that hypnosis and relaxation can be beneficial to a person who is suffering.
The secondary benefits of pain: a case study
There maybe events in your life that your pain connects you to. Before you read on I want you to realise and understand one thing- a client in chronic pain is not doing this deliberately they are doing it unconsciously, their pain is genuine and they are suffering. For example Client A served as a soldier and sustained an injury in Bosnia. The injury wasn’t treated correctly and the problem escalated over a period of months, eventually leading to the amputation of the lower left leg, below the knee. Now, 10 years later the ex-serviceman struggled daily with chronic pain from his left leg.
The session was geared to:
- Helping the client to let go of his anger and resentment of the army, as his career had been brought to an abrupt end,
- Finding a benefit that the client now has in his life that he wouldn’t have had, without this accident.
By having Client A focus on what he couldn’t have now, if he had never had the accident, he was able to let go of his “if only’s” and “what ifs” leaving him free to enjoy what he has now. The past will always be the past but how you look at it and experience it will always be within your control. Thanks to the accident and Client A being injured – he was able to fall in love and have a beautiful daughter.
Client A had met a woman after his medical discharge, fell in love, married and had a daughter. These events, when focused upon during the hypnosis session, may have been sufficient to interrupt the clients nociceptor, as he reported a huge increase in his feelings of comfort and wellbeing and after repeating the session a couple of more times, the pain had gone.
The reason for your pain may not appear on a conscious or rational level and a qualified and experienced therapist should be able to help and support you to resolving your own personal pain journey.
Acute Pain is quite instantaneous as a result of stubbing your toe, having an accident or an alert to you that you have an internal problem like appendicitis or toothache. Seldom does it become chronic pain.
Chronic Pain can be persistent and last for a very long period of time, even years. It is both psychological and physiological.
Milton .H. Erickson M.D psychiatrist and internationally acclaimed hypnotherapist utilised the phenomena of hypnosis to aid the relief of many pain sufferers.
Hypnosis the process of relaxing the conscious mind whilst stimulating the unconscious mind for change.