Hypnosis for Treating Chronic Back Pain
The vast majority of persons with spinal cord injury report chronic, unpleasant sensations or pain. And about a third describe the chronic pain as severe, which is a very hard thing to live with.
Chronic pain in persons with spinal cord injury tends to exist at multiple body sites and generally does not improve with time. It can interfere significantly with normal activities such as work and social life, and perhaps for that reason is associated with depression.
Acute pain takes place before healing has occurred, whereas chronic pain sets in after the healing is done. The injury has healed, but the pain remains, and it becomes chronic pain. Traditional biomedical treatments, like opiate medications, are generally effective for acute but not chronic pain management. Chronic pain is extremely complex and difficult to treat with narcotics alone.
Using Hypnosis for Treating Chronic Pain
For hypnosis to be effective in chronic pain situations, the post-hypnotic suggestions need to focus on the five factors (from the list above) that are maintaining or aggravating chronic pain syndrome. So, instead of suggesting to chronic pain patients that their pain will go away, which doesn’t work, the therapist might suggest that they’re going to feel more energy and more motivated to participate in physical therapy or an exercise program. These suggestions are more successful in helping somebody who is coping with chronic pain.
Hypnotherapy can be highly effective in addressing other factors: depression, anxiety, and grief. In other words, going beyond giving suggestions to the receptive subconscious mind, with hypnotherapy we can deal with the emotional (and spiritual) “collateral damage”.
Pain often interferes with sleep, so decreasing pain helps increase restful sleep. Studies show that sleep also improves because of the hypnosis.
Another research team at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine Rehabilitation Medicine documented a case of working with a U.S. Army soldier stationed in Iraq who developed myriad pain problems after sustaining a high-level spinal cord injury from a gunshot wound. These problems were negatively affecting his ability to participate fully in his physical rehabilitation and care.
Ten sessions of self-hypnosis training were administered to the patient over a 5-week period to help him address these problems. Both the patient and his occupational therapist reported a substantial reduction in pain over the course of treatment, which allowed the patient to actively engage in his therapies. Six months post-treatment, the patient reported continued use of the hypnosis strategies taught, which effectively reduced his experience of pain.