Hypnosis for Pain Relief
Hypno-analgesia, the use of hypnosis to eliminate or greatly reduce moderate to severe pain has been researched and proven to work.
In their 2003 review of controlled clinical studies, Dr. Patterson and fellow psychologist Mark Jensen, PhD, found that hypno-analgesia is associated with significant reductions in:
- ratings of pain,
- need for analgesics or sedation,
- nausea and vomiting, and - length of stay in hospitals.
Surgeons and other health providers have reported significantly higher degrees of satisfaction with their patients treated with hypnosis than with their other patients.
Depending on the phrasing of the hypnotic suggestion, the sensory and/or affective components of pain and associated brain areas may be affected (as shown by the brain imaging research of neuropsychologist Pierre Rainville, PhD, and collaborators in 1999).
As you might expect, people who are most receptive to hypnotic suggestions in general, or highly hypnotizable, have found the greatest and most lasting relief from hypnosis techniques, but people with moderate suggestibility (the majority of people) also show improvement.
Drs. Patterson and Jensen's review concluded that hypnotic techniques for the relief of acute pain (an outcome of tissue damage) are superior to standard care, and often better than other recognized treatments for pain.
To make it even more of an attractive option, a 2002 cost analysis by radiologists Elvira Lang, MD and Max Rosen, MD, that compared intravenous conscious sedation with hypnotic sedation during radiology treatment found that the cost of the hypnotic intervention was twice as inexpensive as was the cost for the standard sedation procedure.
Chronic pain, which continues beyond the usual time to recover from an injury, usually involves inter-related psychosocial factors and requires more complex treatment than that for acute pain.
In the case of chronic pain, Patterson and Jensen's review found hypnosis to be consistently better than receiving no treatment, and equivalent to the other techniques that also use suggestion for competing sensations, such as relaxation and autogenic training (which is similar to self-hypnotism).
Significance A meta-analysis (a study of studies) in 2000 of 18 published studies by psychologists Guy Montgomery, PhD, Katherine DuHamel, PhD, and William Redd, PhD, showed that 75% of clinical and experimental participants with different types of pain obtained substantial pain relief from hypnotic techniques.
What this says is that, hypnosis is likely to be effective for the vast majority of people suffering from diverse forms of pain. A possible exception is a small minority of patients who are resistant to hypnotic interventions.
Drs. Patterson and Jensen indicate that hypnotic strategies are equivalent or more effective than other treatments for both acute and chronic pain, and they are likely to save both money and time for patients and clinicians. Evidence suggests that hypnosis might be considered a standard of treatment unless the person fails to respond to it or shows a strong opposition against it.
Practical Application Hypno-analgesia is likely to decrease acute and chronic pain in most individuals, and to save them money in surgical procedures.
Hypnotic analgesia has been used successfully in a number of interventions in many clinics, hospitals, and burn care centers, and dental offices.
For acute pain, it has proven effective in interventional radiology, various surgical procedures (e.g., appendectomies, tumor excisions), the treatment of burns (dressing changes and the painful removal of dead or contaminated skin tissue), child-birth labor pain, bone marrow aspiration pain, and pain related to dental work, especially so with children.
Chronic pain conditions for which hypnosis has been used successfully include, among others, headache, backache, fibromyalgia, carcinoma-related pain, temporal mandibular disorder pain, and mixed chronic pain.
Hypnosis can alleviate the sensory and/or affective components of a pain experience, which may be all that is required for acute pain. Chronic conditions, however, may require a comprehensive plan that targets various aspects besides the pain experience.
The patient may need help increasing behaviors that foster well-being and functional activity
- exercise, good diet)
- challenging faulty thinking patterns (e.g., "I cannot do anything about my pain"),
- restoring range of motion and appropriate body mechanics, and so on.
Clinicians using hypno-analgesia should be up to date in other treatments for pain besides hypnosis, consult with other specialists as appropriate, and integrate different strategies to provide the most effective and enduring relief for pain.
Want to know more? Contact Dr Sharon Livingston 201 739 4700, DrSharonLivingston@Gmail.com
Cited Research Lang, E. V., & Rosen, M. P. (2002). Cost analysis of adjunct hypnosis with sedation during outpatient interventional radiologic procedures. Radiology, 222, pp. 375-82. Lynn, S. J., Kirsch, I., Barabasz, A., Cardeña, E., & Patterson, D. (2000). Hypnosis as an empirically supported clinical intervention: The state of the evidence and a look to the future. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 48, pp. 235-255. Montgomery, G. H., DuHamel, K. N., & Redd, W. H. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 48, pp. 138-153. Patterson, D. R., & Jensen, M. P. (2003). Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 129, pp. 495-521. Rainville, P., Carrier, B., Hofbauer, R. K., Bushnell, M. C., & Duncan, G. H. (1999). Dissociation of sensory and affective dimensions of pain using hypnotic modulation. Pain, Vol. 82, pp. 159-71. Source: American Psychological Association