The symptoms of fibromyalgia can sometimes be so painful that they prevent sufferers from going to work, attending school classes, or just managing their daily routines. Unfortunately, there is no cure available for fibromyalgia syndrome, so patients often resort to numerous different treatments to lessen the severity of their fibromyalgia symptoms. However, hypnosis is now emerging as one of the best alternative treatments available for fibromyalgia pain. The use of hypnosis has been proven to reduce pain symptoms and it has become a doctor-recommended treatment. If you are suffering from fibromyalgia pain symptoms, consider hypnosis as a treatment option.
History of Hypnosis
Though it is often disregarded as a proven therapy, hypnosis has long been used to treat both psychological and medical disorders. The Ancient Egyptians and Chinese used hypnosis to relieve symptoms of pain over two thousand years ago. Hypnosis was also used in the 1800’s by medical doctors for anesthetic purposes. Recently, hypnosis has received more attention from the medical field; in fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recommended that hypnosis be used as part of a treatment regime for chronic pain, like that caused by fibromyalgia.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a non-invasive technique that encourages you to achieve heightened levels of focus and sensation. People who practice hypnosis believe that there are two main components to the mind: the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Through relaxation and suggestion, you are able to access your subconscious mind and stop behaviors or thoughts that may be contributing to pain or other unpleasant symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, though, people who are in a state of hypnosis are not unaware of their actions and will not do anything that they have a serious moral or ethical objection to. In fact, you do have control over your actions as well as what you say while you are hypnotized. Moreover, you have the ability to remember what transpired while you were hypnotized. However, in some cases, your subconscious mind may choose to “forget” just what happened.
Types of Hypnosis
There are two main types of hypnosis techniques:
- Hypnosis Performed by a Clinical Hypnotist: This type of hypnosis is performed in-office by a licensed professional. The hypnotist will explain what hypnosis is and how it works to reduce pain. He or she will then lead you into hypnosis through a series of relaxation exercises. Once you are in a hypnotic state, the hypnotist will make suggestions as to how you can change your thoughts or behavior in order to minimize your symptoms.
- Self Hypnosis: Self hypnosis is a type of hypnosis that you can do yourself in the privacy of your own home. You can learn self hypnosis either from a clinical hypnotist or from one of a number of books available on the subject. Self hypnosis programs and hypnotherapy courses are also widely available. Self hypnosis techniques can be indispensable for fibromyalgia sufferers. Self hypnosis is usually used as a form of relaxation or meditation.
Stages of Hypnosis
There are three main stages of hypnosis. Your hypnotist will lead you into a certain stage of hypnosis, depending upon the illness or symptom you wish to treat.
First Stage: The first stage of hypnosis is often referred to as a superficial trance. This is the lightest stage of hypnosis, during which you are aware of all of your surroundings. This type of trance is commonly used to help correct addictive behaviors such as smoking. During a superficial trance, you will accept suggestions but may not act upon them afterwards.
Second Stage: The second stage, the alpha state, is a deeper level of hypnosis. You may notice that your breathing begins to slow down, as will your heart rate and blood pressure. It is this stage of hypnosis that is used to control pain.
Third Stage: The third stage of hypnosis is the deepest. Psychiatrists use this stage to access forgotten emotions, memories, and events. It is often used to help those who have undergone severe psychological trauma.
How Does Hypnosis Work?
Researchers are not completely sure how hypnosis therapy works or why it works so well in fibromyalgia patients. A recent study performed at the University of Iowa looked to explain what actually happens to the brain during hypnosis. Brain scans were taken of chronic pain sufferers in hypnotic trances and analyzed for activity changes. Researchers found that people under hypnosis had reduced activity in pain network areas of the brain. In particular, the area of the brain responsible for “feeling” pain had significantly reduced activity levels. This suggests that hypnosis treatment works because it actually has a physical effect on the brain.
Effects of Hypnosis on Fibromyalgia Sufferers
Many fibromyalgia sufferers attribute reduction in their symptoms to the power of hypnosis. Fibromyalgia sufferers often use hypnosis as a way to limit their pain symptoms and increase their energy and comfort level. A study conducted by the NIH showed that fibromyalgia sufferers undergoing hypnosis reported 80% fewer pain symptoms than those who received no hypnosis treatment. Other benefits of hypnosis include:
- decreased muscle pain
- decreased morning fatigue
- fewer sleep difficulties
- increased relaxation
Things to Remember
Before engaging in any type of hypnosis there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be sure to find a licensed clinical hypnotist. There are many unlicensed hypnotists operating throughout the United States. Clinical hypnotists have specific training in both medicine and psychology.
- Hypnosis doesn’t work for everyone. Up to 10% of the population can’t be hypnotized.
- If you are suffering from a psychiatric condition or any type of psychosis, do not undergo hypnotism without first speaking with your health care professional.