Living with chronic pain can be hard from an emotional point of view, as well as the obvious physical side of things.
It can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and affect your sleep too, all of which can have a big impact on your quality of life.
People often try hypnotherapy as a last resort when they no longer feel able to stand the misery of chronic pain but it is a treatment option that can bring a lot of relief a lot earlier than this when it’s used as part of a pain management plan.
Here’s how hypnotherapy works for treating chronic pain.
Getting a Diagnosis for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be caused by various conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, headaches, migraines, endometriosis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia and back pain to name but a few of the potential causes.
Pain is a sign that something isn’t right in the body so it’s not something that hypnotherapists feel comfortable treating without knowing the full story as to what’s causing it.
Before you think seriously about using hypnotherapy as a treatment for chronic pain, it’s absolutely vital to see your doctor first to investigate the potential causes and rule out some of the more serious ones.
This allows your hypnotherapist to be confident that they can treat your pain without being concerned that it may be delaying a diagnosis of something that needs treatment as soon as possible.
For example, chronic pain can be caused by some potentially serious conditions such as cancer and brain tumours so a qualified hypnotherapist will want to know that your doctor isn’t worried about these type of causes when they take you on as a client.
Anxiety and Chronic Pain
There is a very strong link between anxiety and chronic pain, not least because of the vicious cycle between the two.
The body tenses up when pains and this makes the situation worse. It’s something of a vicious cycle in which you feel more tension, pain, and often anxiety and fear.
It’s natural to feel scared of pain, especially given that it’s a sign something is wrong in your body. Even when you know what is causing it, pain can cause a lot of anxiety that then makes you feel it more intensely as you focus in on the feeling.
How Hypnotherapy Can Ease Chronic Pain
Once you have a diagnosis for what is causing your pain, hypnotherapy can then be used as part of a wider treatment plan for chronic pain.
Managing chronic pain often involves painkilling medications, physical therapy and trying to stay reasonably active (as much as your body will let you!) through gentle exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga.
Hypnotherapy can work alongside these to address the way that the mind and body feed into each other when it comes to pain and studies have shown that it can be useful in helping to treat pain caused by a range of conditions.
It helps your mind to react in a different way to pain, which has a positive effect on how you feel.
It can do this in a few ways:
Encouraging relaxation: Hypnotherapy encourages deep relaxation and these techniques can be used to counteract some of the vicious cycle caused by tension. Mindfulness, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and breathing exercises can also help with this.
Pain can cause a lot of stress and anxiety and this can potentially make chronic pain more intense. Hypnotherapy can reduce stress and anxiety and help the nervous system to relax more so that your body’s reaction to pain isn’t so heavily linked to emotional factors like these.
Changing your reaction to pain: It can go even further than this and alter your thought patterns relating to pain to change how your mind reactions to pain. This won’t stop the pain from happening but it can make a difference to your perception of it and ultimately help you to manage it better.
Suggesting distraction techniques: Hypnotherapy can use the power of suggestion to promote ways to help you to take your mind away from your pain. This can include things like imagining yourself on a sun drenched beach (or somewhere else if beaches aren’t your thing!).
Imagery: Your hypnotherapist will often use your specific pain situation to pinpoint the kind of imagery that can work for you in reducing your reaction to pain. What works for one person may have no effect whatsoever on someone else so it’s important for you to work together to find the techniques that are right for you.
When pain strikes, you can use this visualisation technique to help you to manage the feeling. This kind of self-hypnosis can give you the confidence to feel that you can manage your pain outside of hypnotherapy sessions using the tools that you’ve been shown by your hypnotherapist.
What Can I Expect in Results?
Hypnotherapy isn’t a cure for chronic pain and unfortunately, it won’t magically make it disappear.
What it can do is change your perception of your pain and give you the tools to manage it more effectively so that it has a less severe impact on your quality of life.
Results can range from an acceptable reduction in your pain levels that allows you to do more of the things you’re currently restricted with to more significant improvements and depending on how you currently rate your worst days, even the former can make a big difference to your quality of life.