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Hypnosis for pain management has gained a lot of attention lately, mostly because people are more aware of how devastating long-term use of painkillers can be. Chronic pain can be debilitating because it affects both your professional and your social life.
Using hypnosis to alleviate pain can not only eliminate the side effects produced by painkillers, but it can also lower your expenses. Let’s see how you can use hypnosis for pain management.
It must be stated at the beginning of this article that if you are experiencing pain it is important to first speak with your doctor before using hypnosis. We do not want to mask any pain where the cause needs to be treated by a medical professional.
Hypnosis can be defined as a state of mind characterised by relaxation and heightened imagination where you’re more open to suggestions. And the best thing about hypnosis is that you can actually see it work with the help of electroencephalographs (EEGs) or RMIs. People show the same brainwave patterns in a hypnotic state as those who are daydreaming, asleep, or in deep meditation.
A largely approved theory states that the conscious mind takes the backseat when you’re in a hypnotic state, allowing your subconscious to surface.
If the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about hypnosis is a person wearing a vest and a cravat swinging a pocket watch, you’ve been living in a lie. Hypnosis is nothing like what you see in movies. Nobody wants to convince you to cluck like a chicken. In fact, modern hypnosis does not even rely on hypnotherapists most of the time.
Studies have shown that self-hypnosis is an effective alternative to the traditional way of doing things, and modern therapists invest a lot of time and knowledge into developing self-hypnosis sessions instead of seeing individual patients.
But what exactly is self-hypnosis?
You might have experienced self-hypnosis even though you’ve never tried to voluntarily hypnotize yourself until now. If you ever found yourself lost in thought as you watched the ripples in a pond or the ocean waves, you experienced self-hypnosis.
When you’re in a hypnotic state, you feel profoundly relaxed, you’re totally absorbed in your thoughts, and you’re not really aware of your surroundings.
One of the “fathers of hypnosis”, Dr. Milton Erickson, considered that all forms of hypnosis are fundamentally self-hypnosis because nobody can make you do things when you’re in a hypnotic state.
Unlike the villains in Hollywood blockbusters, hypnotherapists couldn’t convince you to give them your money or tell them secrets you really didn’t want to share. It all came down to you, and what you wanted to achieve in the first place, the hypnotist merely facilitated the process.
Most people hypnotize themselves several times per day without even knowing it. Some of us even perform different tasks while under self-hypnosis. One popular example is that of highway hypnosis.
Highway hypnosis happens when you reach your destination without recalling the entire trip. Your brain decides that the trip is uneventful, so you start thinking about different things. Your brain switches on autopilot, and you drive without being aware of it.
When you finally snap out of your thoughts, you discover that you reached the destination, but you cannot recall how you got there.
Now, with the help of self-hypnosis audio tracks, you can enter a state of hypnosis at will, so you can focus on your problems and examine them from different perspectives.
During hypnosis, you feel relaxed and your brain has an increased ability to focus. This allows you to concentrate on a specific thought without the interference of distracting ones.
You could think of the hypnotic state as a magnifying glass for your mind. Just as the magnifying glass focuses the rays of the sun in a single spot, the hypnotic state focuses your thoughts, making them more powerful.
You might feel some physiologic changes when you’re in a hypnotic trance. Most people notice that their pulse and respiration slow down. With the help of an EEG, you can see how the person’s alpha brain waves increase when this happens.
When you’re in a hypnotic state, you can see your problems from a different perspective. This happens because your mind is relaxed and is no longer clouded by distracting thoughts. You can see your goals clearly, and you become more open to suggestions.
And that’s not all. When the suggestion phase is over, the self-hypnosis audio sessions will help you reinforce your new mindset, so your subconscious will actively seek to fulfill your goals once you exit the hypnotic trance.
Every person experiences hypnosis differently. Some people describe their experience as “trance-like”, without being able to pinpoint what exactly made them say that in the first place. Others experience the trance as a sequence of images and soothing sensations.
Most people agree that hypnosis is pleasant and that it helps them focus. They feel very aware of their feelings and thoughts and feel absorbed by their experience.
Most people have wrong expectations when it comes to using hypnosis for pain. They expect to listen to a hypnosis audio session and to feel the pain go away, but that’s not how hypnosis works.
Hypnosis will not convince you that you don’t feel pain, nor will it take the pain away instantly. Hypnosis teaches you how to manage the anxiety and fear you feel related to that pain. Simply put, the self-hypnosis tracks will relax you and redirect your attention from the painful sensation.
The hypnosis session will teach you how to focus on your breathing to relax. The suggestions included in the audio tracks will guide your thoughts away from the pain, and they will reinforce positive thoughts and emotions.
As you drift off in the hypnotic state, you will no longer focus on your pain and how much it bothers you. This might not seem like much for the moment, but this process actually rewires your brain and teaches it how to deal with chronic pain in the future.
Slowly but surely, your brain learns to be less distressed by the sensation of pain. In addition, your brain will also learn how to react to pain in a calm manner, without being afraid of it.
Hypnosis for pain is not a single-dose treatment. You cannot listen to the self-hypnosis audio track once and reap all the benefits. Your brain needs some time to accommodate to your new state of mind.
And the suggestions in the audio track are just that – suggestions. They cannot make your brain react in a way it’s not used to. Your brain is capable of ignoring the pain, but it doesn’t know it yet. The hypnotic suggestions rewire your brain to interpret pain differently, but that takes time.
The goal of the audio sessions is to teach you how to cope on your own when the pain strikes or worsens. After listening to the recordings for a while, you will learn how to enter the hypnotic trance at will, without their help. This will help you deal with the pain as soon as you experience it, whether you’re at work, at home, or in a holiday resort.
Keep in mind that learning hypnosis takes practice. Just as with every other activity, some people get the hang of it sooner than others. You shouldn’t feel discouraged if you do not experience all the benefits of the hypnosis sessions as soon as other people.
The great thing about using hypnosis for pain is that it’s an alternative medicine procedure approved by the scientific community. Research has shown that medical hypnosis is effective in treating acute and chronic pain.
More studies showed that hypnosis is effective at relieving pain associated with burns, some types of cancer treatment, and rheumatoid arthritis. A meta-study that examined the results of 18 other studies conducted in 2000 revealed that 75% of the participants experienced substantial pain relief after using hypnosis.
A study conducted in 2017 by the University of Utah showed that hypnosis can reduce pain in the short term. The researchers note that 29% of the participants experienced an immediate pain reduction after a single hypnosis session. This is an interesting study because it contradicts the common belief that effective hypnosis needs practice.
Another study, this one published in 2015, found that people suffering from chronic back pain experienced pain relief lasting more than 6 months when they used hypnosis as treatment.
And a comprehensive review of the last two decades of study published in 2014 concluded that hypnosis can offer both short- and long-term benefits for those in pain.
Hypnosis can be used successfully to treat a wide variety of pain conditions. You can use hypnosis to treat arthritis pain, pain caused by burns and some types of cancer treatment, fibromyalgia, headaches, and back pain.
Many people believe that hypnosis can treat just about all the types of chronic and acute pain, especially if the patient is receptive to hypnosis and learns how to enter the hypnotic trance at will.
An analysis published in 2015 showed that using hypnosis for pain produces several effects:
An important rule of using self-hypnosis for pain is to practice as often as you can when you feel little to no pain. You need to practice when you’re not in excruciating pain because you will most likely be unable to focus when you are.
Practicing when you feel well will give you the opportunity to experience the trance before you actually need it, so you will be able to access it quicker. Practicing will teach your brain to accommodate to the hypnosis trance, so you will be able to focus on your breathing and enter the trance when the pain is at its worst.
You can use the hypnotic suggestions included in the self-hypnosis audio session to reframe your perception of pain. Most people describe chronic pain as a burning sensation that sometimes flares bright red.
Well, the hypnotic suggestions can help you reframe your pain. Instead of a burning sensation, you can teach your mind to perceive the pain as a feeling of warmth.
Further on, when you’re experienced in using the audio track and entering the hypnotic trance, you can redo the process. You can manipulate your mind to downgrade the feeling of warmth to a mild warm breeze, or even a cool sensation.
You cannot learn everything about self-hypnosis after listening to the audio session for a single time. As you become more experienced in hypnosis, you will notice that your trance becomes more and more profound.
For example, a common self-hypnosis technique requires you to imagine immersing your hand in ice-cold water. You can take this image further as you become more experienced in controlling your thoughts under hypnosis. Some people can actually perceive their hand as becoming numb.
Now, veteran hypnosis users can take the image even further. With the help of their focus and imagination, they can visualize how the numbness moves from their hand to the painful spot. This technique, albeit difficult, helps you numb the pain completely. However, this technique takes time to master.
Hypnosis can be an effective tool in treating children as well. Not only will hypnosis teach children how to react to pain, but it will also encourage them to take control of their feelings and experiences.
Using hypnosis for children in pain teaches them to do something about it without the help of an adult and without taking pills. Using hypnosis also eliminates the stress children experience at not having control over their feelings.
Starting small will prevent feeling overwhelmed. You will see that you will enjoy spending time in a deep trance as you progress.
Recording your progress helps you keep track of all the changes you experience as you progress and become more familiar with hypnosis and the hypnotic trance. Recording your sensation before and after listening to a hypnosis session and writing about all the differences you experience on a weekly basis can help you stay focused and on track.
Self-hypnosis can do wonders for your chronic pain, and it can improve your overall wellbeing, but this mastering hypnosis requires patience and dedication.
As you could see, everyone can use hypnosis for pain management. The great thing about hypnosis instead of painkillers is that it doesn’t produce any side effects. Hypnosis simply teaches your brain to pay less attention to the pain and more to the things around you, to life in general.
If you struggle coping with chronic or acute pain, try using hypnosis for pain management today.