Surveys reveal that 1 in 7 people in the United Kingdom have chronic pain. Chronic pain can cause strong social, emotional, and financial strains on a person. But the good news is, there are several ways to manage pain. There are even non-pharmacologic ways to address it which include hypnotherapy. Published by Hypnosis in London on 15 August 2016, written by Malminder Gill.
What Causes Pain
Pain is the body’s way of telling a person that he/she is sick or injured. As the pain triggers a person to do something about his/her situation, it can be perceived as a good thing as it allows the person to continually evolve and survive. Hence, pain can be seen as the body’s way of protecting itself.
The pain process starts at the source of the injury or the inflammation. When you are injured or when there is inflammation on a particular part of your body, the pain receptors are stimulated which then trigger the release of certain chemicals.
These chemicals, which carry the “pain message,” travel through the spinal cord which then brings the message to the brain. Once the brain perceives that pain, it then sends a message back to the body for an appropriate response. This process may sound complex but it happens very quickly.
Different Kinds of Pain
Pain can last for days or years. When a person suffers from a short-term pain, which may be for a couple of days to a few months, then he/she is considered to have an acute pain. Acute pain is caused by an accident or injury. Pain only goes away when the injury heals.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, is the kind of pain that often requires long-term treatment and management. The experience of people suffering from chronic pain is very different from those who are suffering from acute pain mainly because these people suffer from pain for a long time.
The brain responds to chronic pain in a different way. With chronic pain, the nervous system’s function is altered and becomes more sensitive to pain. The brain cells can be so sensitive that even a light touch can be perceived as pain.
A person may suffer from chronic pain as a result of certain medical conditions. These may include fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, low-back pain, and migraine.
Non-Pharmacologic Ways of Managing Pain
Pain medications are common ways to manage the pain. However, there are also non-pharmacologic ways to address it. These include heat therapy, massage, and hypnotherapy.
Heat therapy, which can be in the form of using heat pads, heat wraps, warm gel packs, and hot baths, is an easy and inexpensive way to address the pain especially of the lower back. In one study, it revealed that the use of heat works for those with acute and chronic pain.
While heat is effective for both acute and chronic pain, it doesn’t work well for pain caused by a “fresh” injury. These are injuries on which the tissues have been physically damaged.
Massage is another effective non-pharmacologic way to manage pain. It does the job by dampening the effect of the inflammatory cytokines, proteins that cause inflammation and pain. It also increases the levels of protein responsible for producing energy and helping muscles recover.
There are already several studies that have been conducted, showing the effectiveness of massage therapy in the alleviation of pain; one of which is from the American Psychological Association. Subjects who were given massage interventions in the study reported to have reduction in pain. The reduction in pain perception is over 20% more than those who were not given massage.
Hypnotherapy for Pain
For years, hypnotherapy has been used for pain management. It makes use of the power of the mind to control emotion and sensation.
When a person undergoes hypnotherapy, he/she is placed in a trance. In this state of deep relaxation, a person’s attention is directed to something else, making him/her feel less pain.
The efficacy of hypnotherapy has been proven in several studies.
In one study, it revealed that hypnosis causes a significant decrease in pain associated with chronic pain problems. It is generally found to be more effective than other interventions including physical therapy and attention.
Hypnosis is also shown to have a significant impact on procedural pain and chronic pain conditions. This was shown in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association.