Hypnosis for Pain Relief
Learn how this mind-body technique may help relieve arthritis symptoms.
Hypnosis may be a helpful nondrug therapy to reduce pain in chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgiaStudies show that more than 75% of people with arthritis and related diseases experience significant pain relief using hypnosis. Far from the parlor trick of years past, today’s practitioners are using hypnosis to give patients an additional tool to help manage their pain.
Learning to Relax with Hypnosis
Hypnosis isn’t about convincing you that you don’t feel pain; it’s about helping you manage the fear and anxiety you feel related to that pain. It relaxes you, and it redirects your attention from the sensation of pain. In a hypnosis session, which usually lasts 10-20 minutes, you will likely start by focusing on your breathing to help you relax. Then the hypnotist will instruct you to imagine a pleasant place and describe it in detail, refocusing your attention from something that triggers negative emotions to something that will activate positive emotions, such as being at the beach.
If your mind is off to the beach, and you’re imagining the warmth of the sun, the cool of the breeze and the sand at your feet, you’ll be less focused on your pain. This also prepares you for the indirect suggestion of how to react to pain in the future. It might sound something like this: “You will continue to feel this same sensation of pain, but you’ll be much less distressed about it, much calmer, much more at ease, not worried about it.”
Practicing Hypnosis Makes Perfect
Hypnosis isn’t a one-shot treatment. At first, it can be part of regular psychotherapy sessions in a doctor’s office. Hypnosis typically helps relieve pain in just 4 to 10 sessions. But some people benefit faster and others not at all. The goal is to teach you the technique so you can use it on your own when pain strikes.
Some practitioners can create recordings for you that you can play to lead yourself into the hypnotic process. Some patients prefer to come up with their own script and not rely on a recording or the therapist’s voice to activate the process when pain strikes and they need it.
Learning hypnosis takes practice, and some people learn it more easily than others. Practice when you feel little or no pain; it can be harder when you’re in a lot of pain.
Is Hypnosis Right for You?
Some people respond to hypnosis better than others, but there’s no harm in trying it. It has no side effects and if it doesn’t work for you, you can stop at any time. Many people do report significant reduction in pain, and you could gain a simple tool that you can use any time to ease your symptoms.
To find a qualified hypnotherapist, ask your doctor for a referral or contact the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis or the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis. Health insurance may cover hypnosis for pain therapy performed by a medical or psychological professional.
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