Many wonder about the ability to cope with chronic pain with the help of hypnotherapy methods. Scientific sources (for example, “The Role of Suggestions for Hypnosis for Chronic Pain: A Review of the Literature”) provide an overview of more than 20 controlled studies that confirm the positive effects of hypnotherapy in diseases such as spinal cord injury, sickle cell anemia, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, pain with paralysis and cancer. According to the authors of these studies, the methods of hypnotherapy used have achieved significant results in controlling pain syndrome and unpleasant bodily sensations (as in panic attacks).
Hypnotherapy methods primarily achieve significant muscle relaxation, which in some diseases (especially those associated with spasms) by themselves, even without suggestive programming, reduce, if not completely stop, the pain syndrome. With the use of these methods we can change the way the autonomic system reacts to pain, making it more resilient and with less overall response. Gradually, the pain subsides, the state of health improves, the patient becomes more calm and collected.
It is important from the outset to determine the nature of the pain syndrome: neuropathic or nociceptive. It is on the type of pain that the hypnotism technique and the type of sugative programming depend. If the patient has nociceptive muscle pain, then it is aggravated by movement. In this case, using a progressive hypnotherapy, the therapist creates a metaphorical space in the future, say a year later after the date of the session. In this metaphorical space, the therapist builds a new image of the patient – without pain, with good physical preparation. The patient in the metaphorical space of the future leads an active lifestyle, plays sports, runs with ease, and the like. The autonomic nervous system responds to the patient’s sensations in metaphorical space, as if they were sensations in the here and now. The reaction does not encounter pain, and, as a result, becomes acclimated to the new painless norm. As is well known, nociceptive pain diminishes if a person has slept enough and rested. In addition to suggestive programming, a merely trance state already has a certain effect on patients with this kind of pain syndrome.
If the pain is neuropathic (for example, the pain becomes more intense at night and it has an acute, sharp character), then we are dealing with a psychosomatic core. In this case, the therapist uses the method of regressive hypnosis, forcing the patient to recall the event that was responsible for the appearance of the emotional load. It is the emotional load that caused the physiological disturbances in the synaptic connections of the nervous system.
Both methods — regressive hypnosis and progressive hypnosis — are quite effective. In progression, the patient sees themselves in the future. Here it is important to create a vision that is both believable and in the relative near-term. We, applying the methods of hypnosis treatment, basically create a metaphorical space a year later, after the date of the session. Suggestive programming includes feelings such as confidence, looseness, the ability to do those things that were previously difficult for him, an increase in physical strength and endurance and a sense of pride in their successes. If he manages to really feel all this (and this is most attainable only in the Esdaile state), then his autonomic system takes these sensations as reality.
If in progressions we create what was not, then in regressions we change what was. For example, a client suffering from gout attacks has a particular painful experience from past events. If you change this experience to a more neutral or even positive one, his autonomic system will begin to really believe that this is exactly what happened.
The effectiveness of these techniques depends not only on the individual characteristics of the patient, but also on the depth of immersion in a trance state, that is, on the quality of the trance. The art of the hypnologist is to determine precisely the technique to which the patient is most susceptible.
That is why when a patient asks a question related to the effectiveness of the hypnotherapy method, we always answer: “Everyone has their own most effective technique, and we will try to find yours.”
As for reducing the degree of pain, in one case the pain decreases due to the fact that the person himself becomes calmer, less reactive, others increase the pain threshold, others stop paying attention to pain, and in the fourth, the pain disappears due to suggestive programming .
Of course, there are types of pain that are organic. They can not pass until the inflammatory processes in this area of the body will not be stopped. But even in these cases, there are certain results. Supportive synthesis of opioid hormones synthesized during the trance state helps to stop the inflammatory processes. They are responsible for raising the pain threshold.
If we are speaking about this sort of organic pain, then we cannot say that our treatment alone will remove this sort of pain. For example, joint pain (gout, arthritis, arthrosis) may decrease in intensity to 60%. When we deal with post-traumatic pain (for example, pain after fractures), we are talking only about 20%. The nociceptive form of pain (for example, muscle pain, myalgia) is less amenable to hypnotherapy than neuropathic pain (nerve damage, neuralgia, pain in the spine). The processes of hypnotherapy primarily affect the activity of the brain and central nervous system. Therefore, hypnotherapy has more effect on functional disorders, which create neuropathic pain.
In addition, patients with chronic pain often have a sleep disorder. With a lack of sleep, the body is not fully restored, not only vital processes are affected, but also the nervous system. With the weakening of the muscular system, the intensity of the pain increases. With an additional load on the nervous system, the intensity of the pain increases. In this case, the treatment of hypnosis is complemented by a specialized gymnastics Hadu. Our certified gymnastics instructor will be happy to conduct classes at the client’s home. Our Kiev hypnotherapists take into account the quality of sleep, the presence or absence of physical activity of the patient, and especially the emotional state. It is important to note that people in a difficult social situation are more difficult to use the hypnotherapy method, although with diligence and with this you can cope.
It is also impossible not to take into account that the request for reducing pain syndrome may not include moments that are really important for the patient, such as staying in a depressive state. It is the responsibility of the hypnotherapist to expand the boundaries of treatment goals in order to significantly improve the quality of life for the patient. What matters most to us is how our patients will feel at the end of the course of treatment.
Detailed information about therapeutic hypnosis and hypnotherapy read here.
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Doctor of Science in Medical Psychology, Professor