Hypnosis has a long and illustrious history when it comes to pain relief. Even now it’s used in some cases to manage pain during child birth and other medical procedures. It’s not very clear as to why hypnosis is so effective with pain control, but research suggests it’s because hypnosis affects the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain charged with decision making. It’s possible that the mind can subconsciously decide not to feel pain.
The history of hypnosis and pain management.
John Elliotson, a professor at London University Hospital who lived between 1791 and 1868, noted patients that underwent major surgery using trance as their only anaesthetic. In fact, hypnosis was a standard anaesthetic up until the discovery of modern anaesthetics in the 1900s.
Hypnosis and pain management now
Since then, however, hypnosis for pain control has seen a resurgence in popularity. There are new theories on how pain is perceived by the brain, and they have paved the way for the return of hypnosis. These theories posit that the way we mentally understand pain can change the experience of it.
Psychologist Ronald Melzack and Neurobiologist Patrick Wall called this the Gate Control Theory of Pain. We won’t go into too much detail about it here, but it essentially opens up the idea that how we experience pain is informed by experience, attention, and our emotional state. This means that changing these things can change, or decrease, our experience of pain.
Those who experience chronic pain often withdraw both from society and activities which they previously enjoyed, and it’s possible that doing that is what makes the pain worse. Instead, to reduce pain, it’s necessary to relax, feel positive, socialise, take up hobbies, exercise regularly, and even have a massage.
Hypnotherapy can help with a number of these aspects. It can contribute to reducing your stress and anxiety levels, help with your motivation to take regular exercise, and also help with your social life.
Some things to be aware of
So, it seems that hypnosis might be the key to pain management for some people, but it’s important to be aware of a few things first.
First off, hypnotherapy isn’t an alternative to conventional medicine, and should instead be used alongside it.
Secondly, it’s unsafe to try and take the pain away unless the cause of the pain has been diagnosed by a professional doctor. Most hypnotherapists are not doctors, so make sure you see your GP before deciding to seek a hypnotherapist.
If your GP says it’s okay to try hypnotherapy for pain management, you should still take any prescription medications you’ve been given and not reduce their dosage or stop taking them without first consulting your GP.
Finally, it’s important to realise that hypnotherapy cannot cure the condition which is causing the pain. You will still need to go and see your GP about your situation from time to time to monitor it and update them on any changes.
If you are considering using hypnotherapy as a form of pain relief or would like more information about hypnotherapy in general then please get in touch with me on 07870 893226.