Chronic Pain Hypnosis Medical Studies


Benefits in 25 Chronic Pain Hypnosis Studies

In twenty-five chronic pain hypnosis studies with adults, hypnosis was compared for pain relief to a control group. Seven of these studies focused on headache, four on facial pain, two on cancer pain, one study on osteoarthritis pain, two on disability-related pain, one on chest pain, two on low back pain, four on chronic pain/fibromyalgia, one on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and one on mixed chronic pain conditions.Overall, the findings show hypnosis to be a viable and effective option for managing chronic pain, and given its lack of substantial side effects and potential cost-effective benefits it remains an attractive option. Indeed, research studying treatment satisfaction with hypnosis has found high rates of satisfaction among participants. (“The Role of Suggestions in Hypnosis for Chronic Pain: A Review of the Literature,” Tiara Dillworth and Mark P. Jensen, Open Pain J. 2010; 3(1): 39–51. PMCID: PMC3113537; NIHMSID: NIHMS270994)

Persistent Pain Improvement Chronic Pain Hypnosis

A pilot study of the effectiveness of hypnosis indicates that hypnosis treatment may have a positive effect on pain and quality of life for patients with chronic muscular pain. One group went through a standardized hypnosis treatment with ten consecutive therapeutic sessions once a week, each lasting for about 30 minutes, focusing on ego-strengthening, relaxation, releasing muscular tension and increasing self-efficacy. This group improved from their symptoms, (change from 62.5 to 55.4), while the control group deteriorated, (change from 37.2 to 45.1).  The 12 patients who completed the treatment showed a mean improvement from 51.5 to 41.6. One year later the corresponding result was 41.3, indicating a persisting improvement. (“Hypnosis as a treatment of chronic widespread pain in general practice: A randomized controlled pilot trial,” Grøndahl J R, Rosvold E O, BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 2008, PMC2553788)

Hypnosis Re-routes Pain Signal Away from Brain’s Pain Center

When hot plates were applied to volunteers substantial pain was induced and the live brain scan showed the signal routed to the pain center. Under hypnosis little or no pain was experienced and the brain scans revealed that the signal was routed to other parts of the brain and not the pain center.  “It helps to dispel prejudice about hypnosis as a technique to manage pain because we can show an objective, measurable change in brain activity linked to a reduced perception of pain.” (“fMRI Used to Investigate Brain Activity Under Hypnosis for Pain Suppression,” Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, Nov-Dec 2004.)

Studies Show Hypnosis Superior for Pain Relief

In a review of randomized, controlled trials of hypnotic analgesia for the treatment of chronic and acute pain in adults, these were the results:

  1. Hypnotic analgesia consistently results in greater decreases in a variety of pain outcomes compared to no treatment/standard care;
  2. Hypnosis frequently out-performs non-hypnotic interventions (e.g. education, supportive therapy) in terms of reductions in pain-related outcomes;
  3. Hypnosis performs similarly to treatments that contain hypnotic elements (such as progressive muscle relaxation) but outperforms these alternative treatments.

(“The Efficacy of Hypnotic Analgesia in Adults: A Review of the Literature,” Stoelb BL, Molton IR, Jensen MP, Patterson DR., Contemp Hypn 2009 Mar 1;26(1):24-39. PMID:20161034; PMCID:PMC2753288; DOI:10.1002/ch.370)

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