As Individuals, we all without question will experience some form of physical pain in our lives… unfortunately however, not all pain easily heals, which can lead to long lasting, persistent pain.
What is Chronic Pain:
Chronic pain is a type of continuous ache that is typically caused by an injury or due to a medical operation. This discomfort typically lasts more than 12 weeks despite the help of medications and treatments, this is due to how our brain and the nerves in our spine work. When our body feels a fast, sharp pain, like being pricked with a needle, the pain travels up the spinal cord through our central nervous system on transmitters called A-Fibers. These Fibers are prioritized by the brain and are received faster compared to the other Fibers. Meanwhile, persistent throbbing or aches, are considered as chronic pains and are sent through the nervous system, to the brain via C-Fibers. These messages of discomfort are sent a lot slower to the brain compared to the A-fibers.
A simple analogy to explain this would be to imagine a race between a Race car and a Bicycle, with the finish line being our brains. Without question, the A-fiber “Race car” will finish the race a lot faster & sooner than the C-fiber “Biycle” and reach the finish line first, easily beating the bicycle.
However this also means that because the A-fiber “Race car” finished faster, it will leave the track faster, while the C-fiber “Bicycle” will be on the track a lot longer. Meaning that the fast Needle prick will hurt for a shorter time than the aching, chronic pain.
How Hypnosis can help with Chronic Pain:
If we are in constant, long lasting pain, it can be very difficult to be happy or look forward to things. This is due to two things; Being unable to focus on anything positive due to strain we are suffering & a lack of serotonin in our brain.
Serotonin is used in our entire body and has an impact on our emotions, motor functions, sleep and even how our wounds heal. It also helps interrupt pain signals that are sent to the brain. Using our previous analogy, this could be considered as giving the “Bicycle” a flat tire, causing it to stop in the middle of the race to the brain.
As Serotonin is used throughout our entire body, a lot of it needs to be used in the right places, meaning that we don’t want to use it all on how we are feeling emotionally, which in turn doesn’t stop us from reducing any pain we are in. This is where hypnotherapy can help to create a steady flow of serotonin. Hypnotherapy can train the brain to refocus attention on more pleasant scenes and experiences that produce the right chemical responses that help to ease the pain, like teaching you to focus on habits or behaviors that will ease pain, reduce stress, and relax the nervous system to reduce awareness of the sensations of pain.
Hypnosis Techniques used for Pain: There are many techniques that are used in Hypnosis to remove or at least reduce chronic pain. Here’s just a few examples of methods that are used to help:
Altering your focus; by altering your focus away from your pain to another part of your body, you can reduce how much you can physically feel the pain. For example, by focusing on a none-painful part of your body and trying to imagine a sensation, you can essentially trick your brain into ignoring the chronic pain you are suffering with. This could be anything similar to imaging your hand warming up or perhaps your toes being cold. Altering your focus could also mean imagining positive imagery, such as the perfect place you would like to go on holiday or live. A place where you have no worries, can be completely carefree and relaxed.
Pain Movement; Pain movement is the act of making your brain think that your pain is in a different part of your body that is personally more manageable for you. For example, if you are suffering with chronic back pain, you could focus the pain into your hand, making your hand feel the pain rather than your back.
Mental anesthesia; This involves imagining an injection of numbing medication into the painful area without physically getting injected. This would involve imagining a numbing solution being injected into the area of pain, reducing the pain significantly and then imagining a soothing and cooling ice pack being placed onto the area of pain.
These are just a few examples of how a Clinical Hypnotist can use hypnosis to help guide someone to reduce & manage pain, with many more options available depending on the client