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Hypnosis for pain
Therapies that address the mind-body link are often recommended for those dealing with long-term pain. Stress and anxiety are common side effects of pain and can even make the sensation feel worse. The way the mind responds to pain also links to the perception of physical sensations.
Helping to reduce stress and change the thought patterns related to pain can therefore make a huge difference to pain perception. For this reason many clients see marked inprovement in their pain and their ability to manage the symptoms.
When you are under hypnosis you focus on relaxation and letting go of distracting thoughts. This temporarily tunes out the conscious part of your mind, opening you up to the power of suggestion. At this point as your hypnotherapist I can make suggestions to encourage pain relief.
Rather than convincing you that your pain doesn't exist, hypnosis for pain aims to manage any fear and anxiety you may have relating to your pain. It also helps to reduce stress and relax the nervous system to help it become less reactive to pain.
Hypnosis for pain also refocuses your mind away from the pain and onto something more pleasant. For example, many hypnotherapists will ask you to imagine that you're somewhere nice, like a beach. Using visualisation techniques you may be asked to describe the place in more detail. Thinking about what the sea looks like, the warmth of the sun and the feeling of sand between your toes will help to distract you from your pain.
The number of sessions you'll need will depend on your individual circumstances, .
It is a completely natural therapy with no side effects, so it is certainly worth trying. Many people say it is an effective tool to use as part of their chronic pain management plan. In addition to using hypnosis I may also use some new,rapid therapies Kinetic Shift and BWRT.
As all clients are unique as is their pain then a combination of therapies tailored to the individual clients needs usally provides the most effective and long lasting results.
What is chronic pain?
There are two different types of pain - acute and chronic pain. Acute pain (also referred to as short-term pain) is usually a result of an accident or temporary illness. In this case, your doctor will make a diagnosis and suggest ways to lessen the pain (for example, pain killers).
Chronic, or long-term pain is often more complicated. The pain may be a result of a medical condition, or there may not be any obvious cause. This doesn't mean the pain isn't real, it just makes treatment that much more complex.
If you are experiencing pain, you are always advised to see your doctor. They will be able to investigate further to find out what is causing it and how best to treat it.
If you experience pain on a regular basis, it's important to consider chronic pain management. As tempting as it may be to lie in bed and not move, in most cases this only makes things worse. Inactivity can cause your body to stiffen up and over time you lose strength. This can then affect your sleep and mood.
If you are able to, try to stay as mobile as possible. Gentle exercise can actually work as a natural form of pain relief. Be sure to consult your doctor to find out which exercises you can do safely. Look for something that won't put too much strain on your body such as:
Sometimes just getting up and being active is enough. Listen to your body and don't overexert yourself.
Many people with chronic conditions require some form of physical therapy. This will be carried out by medical professionals as part of your treatment plan. Physical therapy generally involves stretching exercises, manipulation and other pain relief exercises.
Medications and painkillers can also form part of your chronic pain management plan. Your doctor should always advise this. Painkillers can be effective, however it is important to use them safely as they can have side effects
Relaxation for pain relief
When we are in pain our bodies typically tense up. This only exacerbates the sensation, continuing the cycle of stress, tension, fear and pain. Relaxation techniques can help to alleviate this. When we are relaxed mentally, our bodies follow.
There are several different relaxation techniques you can employ for pain relief including meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques.
Meditation is a process that aims to quiet the mind and relax the body.
This is where you focus on the present moment.
Studies have suggested that regular meditation can increase pain tolerance as well as reduce stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditation in particular has been used to help those with chronic pain conditions such as headaches, low back pain and gastrointestinal pain.
Progressive muscle relaxation
Also known as systematic muscle relaxation, this technique involves tensing and relaxing muscle groups. The idea behind this is to help the participant recognise the difference between tension and relaxation, which in turn relaxes the body. Some hypnotherapists employ this technique during hypnosis for pain.
Breathing techniques are designed to teach people how to use their breath to relax and reduce stress. As a Hypnotherapist I typically use breathing techniques to help clients relax and enter the hypnotic state. I will also teach clients breathing techniques to practise and use at home.
Pain and mental health
Living with pain on a daily basis can be incredibly difficult - both physically and mentally. Having to cope with long-term conditions like this can lead to increased levels of stress, insomnia and even depression and anxiety.
If you suffer from chronic pain, you may find you experience anxiety symptoms. You may worry about the sensation and what it means, or you may anticipate pain. In some cases, certain situations induce anxiety as you worry about whether or not your condition will cause problems.
Being anxious can increase your perception of pain as you become more stressed and focused on the sensation. A big part of hypnosis for pain looks at this very issue. By helping your mind to react differently to the sensation, anxiety levels reduce.
With pain typically comes a great deal of negativity. You may think about how bad you're feeling or wondering 'why me?'. Negative thinking like this may lead to depression. This mental health condition affects quality of life and can become very serious. If you are diagnosed with depression, you may be advised to try therapies like counselling.
When we are in physical pain, relaxing and falling asleep can become difficult. In some cases it can lead to sleeplessness, or insomnia. Sleep is important as it gives our minds and bodies time to recover from the day - something that is often especially important to those with chronic pain conditions.
Hypnotherapy for insomnia is a valuable tool for many, encouraging both relaxation and restful sleep.
Painful conditions that can be helped with Hypnosis
Some illnesses and conditions are well known for causing pain. Some examples of these include the following:
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and stiffening of the joints. Depending on the severity, the pain can be mild or severe, making day-to-day living difficult.
Most people who develop cancer will experience pain at some point. This may be due to the tumours themselves, or the cancer treatment. Again, the degree of pain will be dependent on the individual circumstances. I offer a complete support programme to clients with Cancer and also their main support/carer who quite often get neglected whilst supporting the patient. This programme is also very effective with other Chronic/or Life Limiting conditions.'
Cluster headaches and migraines
Cluster headaches cause sudden, sharp pain in the head and can last anything from 15 minutes to three hours. As their name suggests, they tend to come in clusters, leaving the sufferer in a great deal of pain.
Migraines are a particularly painful form of headache that can cause vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. If you suffer from migraines regularly, your doctor may prescribe medication.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
This condition typically develops after an injury has been sustained. The pain following the injury is ongoing and tends to be disproportionate to the original injury.
This gynaecological condition occurs when cells like those found in the womb are found in other parts of the body. For some women, the condition is painless. The majority however experience pelvic pain, severe period pain and pain during/after sex.
The cause of fibromyalgia is largely unknown. Its symptoms include widespread aches with muscles feeling stiff. Painkillers, physical therapy and relaxation therapies are normally advised.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
MS is a condition that affects the brain, nerves and spinal cord. Around half of those with MS will experience pain. This can either be musculoskeletal due to pressure on muscles/joints or neuropathic, where damaged nerve fibres cause a burning/stabbing sensation.
Sciatica and back pain
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is irritated by the back (which often happens after a slipped disc). This causes an ache down the leg for sufferers. Other forms of back pain can be caused by previous injury or overuse of the muscles.
If you have a chronic pain condition, it's important to realise that you don't have to go through it alone. Seeking both medical and therapeutic support is essential. Utilising expertise from the medical profession can help you to practically manage your condition, while mind-body therapies like hypnotherapy can help manage related symptoms and change the way you cope with the pain.
Very often, it is this combination of approaches that helps people with their chronic pain management.
Contact Karen Ferris for further information about how I can help you.