Pain can seriously impair a person’s quality of life, preventing enjoyment of many activities that people free from pain, take for granted. It can seriously affect sleep and mobility and continued pain can gradually lead to feelings of hopelessness.
Physical pain frequently has an organic cause such as tissue or organ damage, muscular strain or infection such as a tooth abscess. Where no detectable tissue damage exists, the discomfort is attributed to psychological factors and described as psychogenic pain. However, the more research into pain that is carried out, the more it is understood that all pain experiences involve a complex interaction of both psychological and physiological factors. Pain is a subjective experience.
Dr Paul Nandi, a consultant in pain medicine at UCL Hospitals says: “Increasingly there is an interest in what the brain does to pain signals, and I think this will be a very exciting field for research in the next few years.”
You may find this article interesting: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12383092
There are 3 main syndromes of pain where no detectable tissue damage exists:
- Neuralgia: repetitive, intense, stabbing pain, along the route of a nerve, usually occurring around the head, jaw and teeth.
- Causalgia: a rare repetitive, occurrence of burning sensations after a nerve has been injured, then healed.
- Phantom Limb Pain: A continuing pain in the limb that has been amputated through surgery.
Acute pain is where a person experiences short bouts of pain, occasionally, lasting no more than 6 months.
Chronic pain is where a person experiences frequent pain, or worse, continuous pain, lasting longer than a period of 6 months.
The Gate Control Theory of Pain
The Gate Control Theory of pain proposes that neural signals of pain pass through a metaphorical gate that can modulate the signals before they reach the brain. This means that pain signals can be interrupted and influenced by psychological processes making hypnotherapy tremendously effective.
Cognitive processes have been studied in dental patients. Patients were studied before, during and after dental pain linked to dental procedures. It was established that high anxiety patients’ memories of pain were based more on what they anticipated than what they actually experienced.
Other than back pain, headaches are the most common source of pain and many people suffer chronic pain from intense headaches. The 3 most common types of headache are:
Tension related. This can feel like a tight band of pressure around the head. This seems to be caused by persistent contraction of the head and neck muscles.
Migraine. These are much more common in women and seem to peak at middle age and then decline. Pain appears to be caused by sustained dilation of blood vessels surrounding the brain. Migraines are often associated with visual disturbances and feelings of nausea. The pain often begins on one side of the head and is intensely sharp and throbbing, lasting sometimes for several days.
Sinusitis related. Often described as dull and throbbing, this pain can be caused when the Para nasal sinuses become blocked, inflamed or infected. There can be additional pain in the cheeks and jaw.
All headaches are disabling. Tension and migraine headaches frequently occur after a period of stress. However, there is no definitive cause as people report chronic headaches when they are not experiencing a stressful life. The brain is a hugely complex system of chemical information exchange. The impulses conveyed to blood vessels can be affected by changes in weather, emotions, excitement and particular chemicals in food and the wider environment.
Hypnosis has an impressive history of talented surgeons who used hypnosis with patients undergoing surgery. James Esdalie was born in 1808 and built on the work done by John Elliotson (1791 – 1868) a brilliant physician who testified excellent results for hypnosis in a wide range of ailments ranging from neurological disorders to heart problems, convulsions and inflammations.
James Esdalie studied in Edinburgh and worked on thousands of painless operations with the use of hypnosis. It was said of James Esdalie that no one person had worked more diligently to bring the value of hypnotic analgesia and anesthesia to the attention of the medical profession. The British Medical Association reported in 1891 that: “As a therapeutic agent, hypnotism is frequently effective in relieving pain, procuring sleep and alleviating many functional ailments.”
How does Hypnotherapy help with pain?
Because we know that pain signals can be altered by psychological processes, Hypnotherapy is highly effective. Hypnotherapy utilizes the ability of the mind to enter a focused awareness in conjunction with a set of interventions based on your individual experience of pain. During an Initial Assessment I will explore the history of your pain, your current life-style and medical treatments and how you are thinking about your pain. From this information, I can develop interventions particularly suited for you. These will provide you with techniques to interrupt the psychological processes that reinforce physical pain enabling you to better manage your physiological symptoms and therefore enjoy a much more fulfilling life.