Hypnosis For Pain Relief and Management

Pain is one of the most debilitating and limiting things that you can suffer with. Not only do you have the discomfort from the pain itself, but you can also find that as a result you struggle with other, linked, issues such as anxiety, depression, fear and worry. Chronic pain can cause huge amounts of suffering, interference with your usual activities and other limitations on your life. Even short term pain can lead to unwanted negative thoughts and emotions, and other psychological distress.

Pain can be experienced in many ways and can affect people differently. There can be chronic pain or that which is more short term. There can be pain that you know will ease and reduce, or pain that you have to adjust to and live with. Pain can be experienced and described as throbbing, burning, stabbing, sharp, dull. All pain though comes with the physical element and a psychological component. 

Of course, no psychological therapy, such as hypnosis, should replace seeking appropriate medical support to examine and assess your pain. Yet perhaps amongst all pain relief approaches and strategies, hypnosis for pain relief and management is one of the most overlooked, despite the research that exists. 

hypnosis for pain relief and management ely

 

Hypnosis For Pain Reduction and Relief

Further on in this article I'll talk about a recent meta-analysis that investigated the use of hypnosis for pain relief and management.

It's worth noting, however, that research for the use of hypnosis for relieving pain has been around for many years now.  Back in 2000, Montgomery, DuHamel, and Redd (2000) examined the effectiveness of hypnosis in pain management. After reviewing the evidence, they found that hypnosis relieves pain for the majority of people, regardless of the type of pain they are experiencing. According to their findings, the average participant receiving hypnosis reduced pain in more than 75% of control participants.

In 2003, Patterson and Jensen, found that hypnosis has a reliable and significant impact on acute procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. And Elkins (2007), reported that, based upon thirteen studies, hypnosis interventions consistently produced significant decreases in pain associated with a variety of chronic-pain problems.

Further research (Adachi, 2014), demonstrated that hypnosis is efficacious for managing chronic pain. Their results revealed no differences in efficacy between hypnosis and other psychological interventions for managing overall chronic pain. However, effect size analysis indicated that hypnosis was more effective than other psychological interventions for a non-headache group. Hypnosis led to larger effect sizes when compared to other psychological interventions, including cognitive behavioural therapy, for managing chronic pain (excluding headache pain).

Based upon previous research showing that using hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive behavioural therapy enhances treatment outcomes for clinical problems, such as chronic pain, it may be that combining both cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis could lead to even more effective treatment for chronic pain issues.

I've covered how adding hypnosis to cognitive behavioural therapy can enhance results in this article:  Hypnosis Enhances Results Of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Updated Science and Evidence

More recently, Thompson (2019), based upon eighty five studies, found that  hypnotic intervention can deliver meaningful pain relief for most people, suggesting the effectiveness of hypnosis for alleviating pain.

 

Effectiveness Of Hypnosis For Pain Relief and Management

So already armed with this evidence supporting the effectiveness of hypnosis for pain relief, we can turn to the most recent research by Milling et al (2021). They conducted a new comprehensive meta-analysis of all controlled studies of the efficacy of hypnosis for relieving clinical pain.

This was the first comprehensive meta-analysis in approximately twenty years (since Montgomery, DuHamel, and Redd (2000) mentioned above) of all controlled studies of the use of hypnosis for relieving clinical pain. Their analysis was based upon 42 studies incorporating 45 trials of hypnosis, in which  a hypnosis intervention was compared with a control condition in alleviating any form of clinical pain.

Their findings suggest that the average participant receiving hypnosis reduced pain more than about 73% of control participants at post and follow-up. When the analysis was limited to studies with the most robust methodology, the effect size demonstrates the average patient treated with hypnosis alleviated pain more than about 79% of controls (the authors write that as this outcome was derived from only the most rigorous trials, "it may possibly represent our most accurate estimate of the pain-relieving effects of hypnosis.").

Overall, their findings support and strengthen the assertion that hypnosis is a very effective intervention for alleviating clinical pain.

Moreover, their findings suggest that hypnosis is about as effective at pain relief and reduction as other psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness. I've written before about how adding hypnosis to cognitive behavioural therapy or mindfulness can enhance positive outcomes, so it may be that there is scope for even greater positive results from hypnosis for pain relief (although this was not part of the study here).

"This meta-analysis clearly demonstrates hypnosis is a very efficacious intervention for relieving clinical pain. Our most conservative estimates indicate the average participant receiving hypnosis reduced pain more than about 73% of control participants both at the end of active treatment and at the longest follow-up. On average, hypnosis appears to be about as effective in alleviating clinical pain as distraction, CBT, biofeedback, and mindfulness. The effect of hypnosis was moderated by hypnotic suggestibility, which calls attention to the possibility that hypnosis may actually be more effective than these other popular psychological pain interventions for individuals who fall in the high range of suggestibility. The analgesic effects of hypnosis were similar for procedural, acute, and chronic pain, as well as for the sensory (i.e., intensity) and affective (i.e., unpleasantness) dimensions of pain. All in all, our meta-analysis affirms that hypnosis is a beneficial treatment option for patients and clients who suffer from clinical pain" (Milling et al, 2021).

All in all, the research and evidence strongly supports the effectiveness of hypnosis for helping with pain relief, reduction and management. Many of those who come to see me for pain relief hypnosis have already found some relief from medication or other approaches, yet still wish to achieve more relief, better pain management or a reduction in their psychological suffering. Even aside from these pain relief specific studies, hypnotherapy has demonstrated its effectiveness for helping with issues, that often come alongside chronic pain, such as anxiety, stress and depression.

All pain has a psychological component that can exacerbate or alleviate what you think, feel and do and how you experience your pain and discomfort. Through a wide range of techniques and strategies, such as mental distraction, imagery, transformation of pain, distortion in the amount of time that the pain is experienced, hypnotic analgesia and more, you can find relief from suffering, more acceptance, calmness and comfort and effective ways for achieving effective pain relief.

To your health and happiness,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

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References:

Adachi, T., Fujino, H., Nakae, A., Mashimo, T. and Sasaki1, J., 2014. A meta-analysis of hypnosis for chronic pain problems: a comparison between hypnosis, standard care, and other psychological interventions. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis62(1), pp.1-28.

Elkins, G., Jensen, M.P. and Patterson, D.R., 2007. Hypnotherapy for the management of chronic pain. Intl. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis55(3), pp.275-287.

Milling, L.S., Valentine, K.E., LoStimolo, L.M., Nett, A.M. and McCarley, H.S., 2021. Hypnosis and the Alleviation of Clinical Pain: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, pp.1-26.

Montgomery, G.H., DuHamel, K.N. and Redd, W.H., 2000. A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: How effective is hypnosis?. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis48(2), pp.138-153.

Patterson, D.R. and Jensen, M.P., 2003. Hypnosis and clinical pain. Psychological bulletin129(4), p.495.

Thompson, T., Terhune, D.B., Oram, C., Sharangparni, J., Rouf, R., Solmi, M., Veronese, N. and Stubbs, B., 2019. The effectiveness of hypnosis for pain relief: A systematic review and meta-analysis of 85 controlled experimental trials. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews99, pp.298-310.