Nov 03 2009

Hypnotherapy Alters Pain Perception

Category: Hypnotherapy,Pain ManagementPatricia @ 10:43 am

In studies about how the human brain and nervous system work, Dr. Kenneth Casey, a professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and a neurology consultant to the VA Health Care System in Ann Arbor states that “the brain has mechanisms to directly control what we feel, it actively controls the flow of sensory information that results in our perceptions.”

In fact, key regions of the brain appear to react as much to the expectation of pain as much as they do to actual painful stimulation. Experiments at the University of Michigan and Princeton University showed that the same region in the brains’ prefrontal cortex that anticipates pain is less active if a person expects a stimulus to hurt less.

Hypnotherapy can help with the perception of pain, by changing the expectation. The mind can alter the feeling of pain by substituting another feeling such as heat, tingling, numbness. It can also divert the location of pain to another body part, thereby allowing relief.  In a January 5, 2004 article by Benedict Carey, The Los Angeles Times reports “the brain can virtually shut down pain signals when preoccupied.”

In 2002, Mount Sinai researchers performed studies which found that adding hypnosis to standard post-surgical care sped the recovery almost 90% of the time in terms of levels of pain, anxiety and the need for painkillers. “The hypnosis seems to change expectations and this change appears to have a strong effect on what people actually experience” says Montgomery, an author on the studies.

Dr. Karen Olness, a professor in the departments of Pediatrics, Family Medicine and International Health at Case Western Reserve University states, “With sufficient practice, many adults can learn to tolerate various painful procedures without medication” Nearly everyone can use self-hypnosis to “reduce the fear and anxiety that accompanies and that can heighten pain.”

A 1999 study reported in the European Journal of Pain states “Hypnosis is a powerful tool in pain therapy.” Researchers used a PET imaging machine to trace the blood-flow patterns of fibromyalgia patients while under hypnosis and “proved there are actual blood-flow changes and patterns in the interplay between cortical and subcortical brain dynamics,” concluding “the patients had less pain during hypnosis than at rest.”

Are you suffering from chronic pain? Are you suffering anxiety and anticipating pain from a surgical procedure? Would you like to learn ways to manage it? Hypnotherapy may be the answer.

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