Pain Management and Hypnosis
Are you looking for a natural approach to pain management to help you with a sports injury, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) or back problems? According to published research, hypnotherapy may prove helpful in ameliorating some of what ails you.
In fact, data appearing on the Arthritis Foundation website suggests that nearly 75% of people specifically with arthritis and related health conditions experience some type of pain relief through the hypnotic process.
Hypnosis for Pain – Really?
You may be thinking – “Hypnosis for pain – really?” When you understand what hypnotherapy is and what it is not, it becomes easier to understand how it can be helpful. First, it is important to recognize that real hypnosis is nothing like you see on television and in movies. Forget the Svengali-like theatrics, replete with swinging watches and swirling disks.
While this kind of imagery may be entertaining, it really isn’t an accurate representation of this natural form relaxation. Be sure to read this extensive webpage from the National Board of Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists to learn more about what hypnosis is – and what it is not.
Hypnosis and Pain Management Potential Benefits
Hypnosis isn’t about magically convincing you that you don’t have pain. Anyone who suggests that simply isn’t being straight with you. What hypnosis can do is help you better manage your fear and stress so that your central nervous system is not as reactive to pain.
Self-Meditation Takes Times
Hypnosis, which is really a powerful form of mindful meditation, redirects your awareness away from the sensations of pain, thereby minimizing its effects. Part of the process involves teaching you to breathe more productively.
During a typical hypnosis session, which lasts somewhere around an hour, the hypnotherapist will encourage you to visualize a relaxing, pleasant place and describe it in detail.
Using guided imagery, the hypnotherapist refocuses your mind from something that triggers unwanted, negative emotions to thoughts that will encourage positive feelings, such as walking along a beach or walking through a tranquil forest.
In this way, your mind is like a television set, projecting imagery onto a screen. You have the power to adjust the volume down or up (similar to taking meds for pain), but you also can turn the channel. Visually, you can shift from what is uncomfortable to something more pleasant. Hypnosis is all about the here and now – as in this very moment in time.
Creative Visualization Example
Let’s say your mind is focused on a placid lake, and you’re aware the sun’s warmth, the gentle coolness of air, the grass at your feet, you’ll be less aware of your pain – and open to the indirect suggestion on how you might react to pain in the future.
An example of such a suggestion might sound similar to this: “You will continue to experience the same sensation of pain, but it causes much less distress. You feel much calmer, much more relaxed and less worried.”
Many people mistakenly believe that hypnosis is a “one time deal” offering instant results. It doesn’t work that way. Because hypnosis helps to train your mind to relax and better manage stress, it tends to be incremental in nature. Some people require only a few sessions while others require more – like 5 or 10.
And it is important to state there are no guarantees. Hypnosis shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for medical treatments offered by your physician or mental health counseling (psychotherapy) provided to you by a licensed psychotherapist. It is best to think of hypnotherapy as a tool that can be used as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness.
With that shared, hypnosis may afford you the ability to learn new techniques to better manage pain when it becomes intense. Once you learn the techniques and become familiar with its basic concepts, you can call upon it as natural coping tool.
At its core, hypnosis is the ultimate form of goal focused, mindful meditation – sometimes referred to as self-hypnosis. Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis is not about mind control. Instead, it’s about self-control. Hypnosis is a normal mental state, which some people describe as a kind of attentional phenomenon.
Do It Yourself Hypnosis
Some professionals who offer hypnosis services to clients provide sound files, like an MP3 or CD. And some people like to make their own “scripts”, which are narrative guides to help them with the pain management process. It all depends upon the person and the unique dynamics at play.
Learning self- hypnosis takes time and practice. Perhaps the best time to try this is when you are not experiencing intense pain or when you are feeling less stress. A great book to learn about self-hypnosis is Self-Hypnosis for Dummies by Mike Brandt. If you click on the book title below, you will be take to the Amazon Website where you can learn more.
Hypnosis and Sports Injuries
Many athletes I know, particularly those who have experienced sports injuries due to excessive over-training, have found that self-hypnosis through mindful meditation during sports counseling for peak athletic performance has helped them the most right after the acute stage of pain ends.
With self-hypnosis, an athlete is given a tool to help them feel more empowered to work through what they are experiencing. When a football player for example feels pain, he is able to naturally do something about it in conjunction with sound medical treatments he is receiving through his doctor.
What’s more, having hypnosis as a tool helps the sports player reduce the stress associated with feeling they have no control over what they are going through.
And self-hypnosis itself can help an injured athlete work through feelings of isolation and sadness that often accompany an injury.
For example, a basketball player who has injured his MCL may be unable to partake in the sport for a period of time while his leg heals. Self-hypnosis allows the sports player to travel to a tranquil, less stress mental place, which helps to encourage feelings of relaxation and wellness.
Is hypnosis right for you? That’s up to you to decide. It is important to bear in mind that hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone and it is considered as alternative form of medicine.
With that shared, many people have reported a meaningful reduction in pain when they open themselves up to the experience. If you are looking for a natural way to work through pain and ameliorate its impact on your life, learning about self-hypnosis may prove to be very helpful.
Should want to know more about the topics of self-hypnosis, mindfulness and potential benefits related to pain management, I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book: Managing Pain Before It Manages You by Dr. Caudill.
Another great resource to learn more about hypnosis and other approaches to wellness is the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Care, through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Use of tools such as hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness should be thought of as part of an overall, comprehensive approach to pain management in conjunction with care you receive from your doctor. Hypnotherapy is not therapy itself but instead, an adjunct to therapy. To learn more about pain hypnosis in Chicago, feel free to call Guy Counseling at 773.704.5300
Disclaimer: Hypnotherapy and other complimentary alternative medicines should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed physician and not a replacement for psychological services. If you are in pain, seek out medical care. If you are in crisis or are concerned you might harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or go to your closest emergency room.