[Michael Schuman, Board Certified Hypnotist in Houston Texas]

Hypnosis Pain Management

Hypnotist Houston Pain Management Hypnotherapy Houston Pain Control

It is possible today to confidently discuss the relationship between hypnosis and the alleviation of pain because of the advent of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging technology. In the past two decades, scientists have been able to verify that changes in blood flow to specific, expected regions of the brain occur when, in hypnosis, suggestions are given to alleviate pain and/or discomfort. The goal of hypnoanalgesia is to provide an alternative to chemical pain relievers that often have unwanted side effects. Often, it is sufficient alone; sometimes it is used as a complement to the chemicals enabling one, under the physician's supervision, to diminish the chemical dose.

Pain is a paradox. It can be both beneficial and harmful. If a splinter pierces the skin, the pain that results is a sign that there is some damage that needs to be repaired. The pain provides useful information that identifies the site of the damage so that something can be done about it. The splinter can be removed and if the wound is bleeding, it can be bandaged. If an ankle is sprained or a bone broken, pain increases even when that part is used in its ordinary way. The pain acts as a warning and protects from further damage or injury until the condition has improved. Abdominal pain may be a sign that the appendix is inflamed and may burst. Or, it may announce the presence of food poisoning or any number of other ailments that may be focused in the abdomen. A toothache gives information that the tooth is infected. Some of the body's sensitivities have evolved to protect it against danger by a signal of pain.

The other side of the paradox is pain that is harmful, not useful, or, perhaps, comes too late. Many of the gravest diseases strike without prior warning of pain. René Leriche, a famous French surgeon, said that illness is a drama in two acts: the first act goes on in the silence of the tissues, without a warning sign of pain. The second act is then a denouement, a final revelation, in which pain announces a disease condition already far advanced, perhaps beyond remedy. The tumors of cancer do not announce themselves in the early stages of their growth. Heart illness may reach the stage of an attack before pain is felt. And ulcers may cause no pain until perforation has occurred.

We divide pain into three categories: First, Acute Pain is what one senses when there is an immediate physical cause. Obvious examples are a toothache, a broken bone, a deteriorating spinal disc, a cut, a surgical incision, a burn, a gall or kidney stone, or an inflamed appendix. These hurt and one knows there is a problem and one attends to it appropriately.

Second, Chronic Pain is pain that persists long after appropriate physical healing has occurred. One extreme example is Phantom Limb Pain, pain that is "felt" where a limb used to be, even after the limb has been removed. Chronic pain serving no useful purpose may go beyond being unpleasant. It may be destructive and incapacitating. And what can the prolonged experience of pain do to the sufferer? It may produce severe depression, have negative effects on the heart and kidneys, disturb stomach and bowel processes and interfere with heart regularity and blood pressure. Most people can identify with examples from either their own lives or from those they know of the damage that continuous pain can cause.

The third is Cancer Pain. Cancer pain is both acute and chronic. Chronic in the sense that, it has an ongoing physical cause, so the pain persists. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death today. The patient faces a major psychological crisis. Not only is fear of death a source of stress, but also the remaining months or years of life may be filled with pain, debilitation, and perhaps disfiguration. Hypnosis is a not a cure for cancer, but it may improve the psychological and social situation of the patient and make the remaining period of his life more comfortable and agreeable than it would otherwise be. Hypnosis can give the cancer patient a tool to empower himself to achieve a level of mental and physical comfort.

A Technology Assessment Panel convened by the National Institutes of Health reviewed the literature, took testimony, and concluded that hypnosis is an effective pain treatment.

The evidence supporting the effectiveness of hypnosis in alleviating Chronic pain associated with cancer seems strong. In addition, the Panel was presented with other data suggesting the effectiveness of Hypnosis in other chronic pain conditions, with include irritable bowel syndrome, oral mucositis, temporomandibular disorders, and tension headaches (NIH 1996, p. 315)

A hypnotist may use many methods to achieve pain management. Effectiveness can vary and the choice may depend on the condition and personality of the client. Suggestions may be direct or indirect, interspersal, or may use anesthesia, guided imagery, hypnoanalysis or other methods. And sometimes, despite our knowledge, experience and best intent, the technique that is best for a particular client is discovered by trial and retrial.

As is so important in hypnosis, attitude is a major factor. It's important that the client accept that relief is possible. Constant pain needs to be approached on a different basis from interim pain. Constant pain is not to be given up completely, even for a few minutes, since it is identified with the life force, except with cancer patients and people with lower back pain who say they have relief when they sleep, but awaken many times during the night. The client likes to feel it is there, however reduced, even during periods of sleep.

Physical pain is seldom constant. Mr. Schuman will determine if the client has experienced periods, however briefly, that were free from pain. If the client feels the pain is constant, although it may fluctuate in severity over the pain continuum, it is more likely to be psychological in origin and may indicate a Chronic Pain Syndrome. Treatment will likely involve the establishment of rapport with empathy and appreciation of the value of pain. Hypnotic regression to the cause of the problem can often lead to understanding and relief.

In Trancework: An introduction to the practice of clinical hypnosis/Michael D. Yapko.--3rd ed., Dr. Yapko writes (p. 107), "Pain management is one of the more sophisticated uses of medical hypnosis, and is applicable to the patient in both chronic and acute pain. Pain management techniques can be used before, during, and after surgery, to facilitate easier childbirth, and to help manage physical trauma of any sort."

And (pp. 108-109), "The growing use of hypnosis in a broad range of medical conditions is evidence of the influence of all those who have called for a more person-centered practice of medicine. . .Hypnosis amplifies this partnership and thereby empowers patients to mobilize their own resources to supplement whatever other treatments they might also be receiving.". . .

"A second good use of hypnosis in dentistry involves the use of pain management techniques. . .Hypnosis techniques for creating the experience of analgesia or anesthesia allow the patient to reduce to a more easily managed level the degree of discomfort experienced, and many are able to eliminate the discomfort altogether (J. Barber, 1977; Chaves, 1993.)"

"A third use of hypnosis in dentistry is for its ability to assist in directing the flow of blood. With proper techniques. . .hypnosis can reduce blood flow to the area under treatment (Holroyd, 1992; Newman, 1971). The result is a less traumatic experience for the patient and greater clarity for the dentist in seeing what he is doing. A related use of hypnosis is for the enhancement of the healing process following treatment. Use of hypnosis techniques involving the imagining of healing. . .can both shorten the recovery period and allow greater comfort during that time."

As with all responsible hypnotists, Mr. Schuman usually will not work with physical pain without being in communication with the referring physician for two reasons: first, not being a physician, he does not diagnose medical issues and second, for the simple reason that pain is more of a symptom than a condition. Pain indicates that something is wrong somewhere, and that is true whether the pain is physical or mental. It would be the height of folly to treat a migraine headache only to have it turn out to have been a brain cancer.

Through hypnosis, clients frequently learn that they can control their pains, and being able to do so they also can diminish pain to tolerable levels or turn it off completely at will.

Seemingly endless periods of tests that prove inconclusive, often accompanied by conflicting diagnoses, can instill levels of fear that may be dealt with through hypnotherapy. Guilt, anger, or other emotional problems often enter into the picture when accidents are involved as source conditions. Sometimes the hypnotist must help the client alleviate the suffering in order to alleviate the pain.

Negative attitudes that control a person's mind leading to low self-esteem and sleep deprivation can be changed through hypnosis. In difficult cases, the power to cope can be programmed into the client's mind, possibly together with cues to make the process more or less automatic.

In dealing with pain situations, Mr. Schuman teaches the client to use self-hypnosis techniques that can be highly beneficial, reinforcing the programming that has been done in the office.

Mr. Schuman recognizes that each client is unique and designs each session for the specific client. At the conclusion of the first session, he gives each client a CD to use for reinforcing between sessions. If appropriate, the session may be recorded so the client may be given the recording to use for reinforcing.

Mr. Schuman is a Board Certified Hypnotist with Specialty Certifications in Complementary Medical Hypnosis, Hypnosis Pain Management (2), HypnoAnesthesia for Chronic Pain Management, and completed an Internship in Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy (with emphasis on pain management). He is in private practice in Houston, Texas.

N.G.H. Specialty Certifications in:
Complementary Medical Hypnotism
Hypnosis Pain Management
[National Guild of Hypnotists]