How Much Better Would Your Life Be Without All That PAIN?
Are you one of the 50 Million Americans who suffers with chronic pain? Is your pain limiting your ability to work or enjoy life? Just imagine what it would be like to be able to control or even eliminate that life-limiting pain, without the use of dangerous opioid drugs. So, #LetsTalkAboutPain.
For those who suffer chronic pain, every day, every month is about pain awareness. However, for the rest of the population, the focus on pain comes once a year. September is National Pain Awareness Month. As part of recognizing the impact of chronic pain on the lives of millions, I believe it is important that we look at a technique that is gaining in popularity among health care providers, the National Institute of Health (NIH), and patients.
The NIH, in response to the devastation caused by the opioid crisis, has undertaken a serious examination of ways that can be used to reduce the suffering without the dangers caused by common pain medication. The CDC, recognizes the importance of using pain medication for the short-term management of pain. They warn, of the potential dangers associated with such medications in various publications they share with providers and the general public. “Prescription opioids (like hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine) are one of the many options for treating severe acute pain. While these medications can reduce pain during short-term use, they come with serious risks including addiction and death from overdose when taken for longer periods of time or at high doses.”[i]
What is truly interesting is that medical science is once again looking at a very old, but highly effective method to control and mitigate pain. If we look back a little more than 150 years ago to the civil war, the US Army was training their doctors in medical hypnosis to control the pain and provide a way to perform amputation surgery. Brendan L. Smith, writing for the APA Monitor “Hypnosis has been used for centuries for pain control, including during the Civil War when Army surgeons hypnotized injured soldiers before amputations. Recent studies have confirmed its effectiveness as a tool to reduce pain.”[ii]
In order to understand how we deal with pain through hypnosis, it is important to understand how the body deals with pain. Pain is perceived in the brain through the nervous system. Peripheral nerves are receptors in the skin and organs that transmit pain signals from the nociceptors to the spinal cord. From the spinal cord, the signals move to the thalamus, which is located deep in the brain.
The initial stimulation of the nociceptors release neurotransmitters activating cells in the spinal cord. When the signals reach the thalamus, three areas of the brain are activated at the same time; the somatosensory cortex (the physical sensation area), the limbic system (the emotional feeling region), and the frontal lobe (the thinking region). This results in the brain sending signals to respond to the pain.[iii]
The amazing part of understanding how and why hypnosis is so effective in dealing with pain comes from the understanding of how pain is recognized in the body and the origin of this and all other feelings.
One theory of how pain works called the Gate Control Theory of Pain, developed by researchers Patrick Wall and Ronald Melzack[iv] suggests the presence of a “gate” that controls the perception of pain. The gate either allows pain messages to flow, or blocks them.[v] This result is dependent upon the volume of stimulation of non-nociceptive (large nerve fiber messages) vs. nociceptive messages carried by the small nerve fibers. A simplified explanation of the theory states that when the large nerve fibers are stimulated to a greater extent than the small fibers, then the perception of pain is blocked. This is mechanism is critical in understanding how hypnosis can be highly effective in the process of managing pain in our clients.
Studies conducted by the National Institute of Health have repeatedly shown that hypnosis is an effective tool . In a significant number of medical studies, hypnosis has been found to be an effective treatment for chronic pain across several conditions [15, 16]. Studies have shown that approximately 70% of individuals with chronic pain are able to experience a short-term reduction in chronic pain during a treatment session or hypnosis practice, and between 20% and 30% achieve more permanent reductions in daily pain [15, 40][vi].
In a 2005 paper written by Hansen and Stretlzer, the authors acknowledge that there is an emotional component to pain. “The perception of pain involves far more than mere sensation. The affective and evaluative components of pain are often as important as the production and transmission of the pain signal. These emotional aspects are most prominent in chronic pain patients, but knowledge of the psychology of pain can greatly improve the treatment of acute pain as well.” [vii]
What this means is that if the brain can create the pain, then it has all the tools it needs to control, or even eliminate it. Pain medication doesn’t remove or heal the injury, but merely blocks the neural pathways to or in the brain to making the individual unable to perceive it.
So how then do we empower those who suffer to take back control of their lives by providing them with a scientifically proven tool that reduces pain to return function. The answer is hypnosis. Despite popular misconceptions, hypnosis, is not mind control. Rather, it is shifting the client/patient from one state of awareness to another, an even more focused state. It is the mechanism of shifting awareness that makes hypnosis incredibly powerful in allowing patients to find relief and empower them to take back control of their lives. Through the various stages of work with the client/patient, the hypnotist shifts the awareness of pain and breaks down existing emotional and neural connections to the pain that frequently keep the client in the pain loop. When this loop is interrupted and replaced by a new, more powerful state, the client/patient experiences a reduction or elimination of the chronic pain. No longer are they the victim to something that they mistakenly believed was out of their control. Now, the clients/patients are able to experience life free from the debilitating emotional and or physical sensation that was chronic pain.
In 2019, we find ourselves dealing with the fall-out of too many people who are victims of the devastation of an over prescribed pain medications. The Federal Government, has tasked departments responsible for addressing these issues to find safe and effective alternatives. Hypnosis, has once again risen to their attention as a highly effective and promising option that pain management specialist, the NIH and doctors are recognizing that hypnosis is a promising weapon in the search to help pain sufferers without the harmful side effects of dangerous procedures or prescriptions.
I work with a significant number of clients in my hypnosis practice who have found relief through hypnosis. Many of these clients have suffered with chronic pain for years before finding relief and empowerment through hypnosis for pain. Hypnosis is safe and effective in helping you get back to enjoying life and stop suffering through it.
Marc Marshall is a certified medical hypnotist and certified mind-body specialist, author and motivational speaker. He works with clients to empower and teach them how to improve their lives through hypnosis and mindfulness practice. For more information or to schedule an appointment or interview, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website – www.hypnomarc.com
[i] https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/patients/Opioids-for-Acute-Pain-a.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/patients/Opioids-for-Acute-Pain-a.pdf
[iii] Medical Hypnotherapy Practitioer Course – Become a Certified Medical Hypnotherapist, Module One, The Mind Body Connection. Roth Seth-Deborah 2009 pg 22
[iv] Pain mechanisms: a new theory. Melzack R, Wall PD
Science. 1965 Nov 19; 150(3699):971-9.
[v] Mendell, L. (2019). Constructing and deconstructing the gate theory of pain.
[vi] Dillworth, T., Mendoza, M. E., & Jensen, M. P. (2012, March). Neurophysiology of pain and hypnosis for chronic pain. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3717822/#targetText=When hypnosis is used as,tingling or numbness .
[vii] Hansen, George & Streltzer, Jon. (2005). The Psychology of Pain. Emergency medicine clinics of North America. 23. 339-48. 10.1016/j.emc.2004.12.005.
#LetsTalkAboutPain #Painmanagement #hypnomarc #hypnotherapy #hypnosis #hypnosispain #marcmarshall #PAM #PAM2019