Hypnosis for pain control
How does hypnosis help with pain? The honest answer to this is we don't know, although there is a long history of it being used in this way. John Elliotson (1791-1868), for example, a professor at London University Hospital, found that patients could undergo major surgery using trance as their only anaesthetic.
And in 1846 James Esdaile, who had worked in hospitals in India, submitted reports to the Medical Association of several thousand successful operations carried out under hypnosis, including 300 major ops and 19 amputations.
We do know that our emotional state tends to affect the amount of pain we experience which is why people in emergency situations are able to ignore pain from their injuries long enough to escape, and soldiers sometimes fail to notice wounds in the heat of battle.
Studies also show that people who are happy and relaxed tend to report less pain than those who are anxious or depressed, so encouraging relaxation and confidence may be part of how hypnosis works.
Using hypnotherapy for pain control
If you are interested in using hypnosis as part of a pain control regime, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
- hypnotherapy is a complementary treatment, not an alternative one so it works alongside conventional medicine not instead of it
- most hypnotherapists are not doctors, and it is unsafe to take away pain unless the cause has been properly diagnosed by someone who is. An ethical hypnotherapist will ask you to see your GP before working with you
- you will be asked to get your GP's permission before working with a hypnotherapist on pain control
- you'll be asked not to stop or reduce any prescription medications without involving your doctor
- hypnosis cannot treat, heal or cure the original condition which caused the pain, so you will still need to see your GP from time to time to monitor this
Typically hypnosis is used for dental pain and in childbirth but it can sometimes also help with arthritis, morning sickness and nausea, postoperative pain, cancer, and in many other circumstances. As with anything else, hypnosis is not a magic wand but many people can learn to use the techniques effectively.
If you are interested in using hypnosis this way, please contact me for more information.
Debbie Waller is a professional hypnotherapist, specialising in stress, anxiety and related issues. She also offers EMDR which is used for trauma, PTSD, phobias and OCD and publishes hypnotherapy-for-ibs.co.uk for those interested in using hypnotherapy to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Debbie owns a multi-accredited hypnotherapy school, Yorkshire Hypnotherapy Training and offers further training for qualified therapists via CPD Expert. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words, editor and contributor to the online magazine Hypnotherapy Training & Practitioner, and co-author of The Hypnotherapy Handbook.
For more information on any of these services, phone 01977 678593.
Researcher & drafter: Rachel Waller.