Hypnosis for Chronic Pain
A study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders in September 
reports positive effects of hypnosis for the treatment of chronic 
widespread pain.

Hypnosis is not routinely used in general treatment programs in the 
United States, but is garnering more attention is recent years, as 
scientists search for effective, holistic treatment options for 
chronic pain. Many small studies have shown that hypnosis can provide 
at least temporary pain relief, and may also lead to a reduction in 
pain over time. Such approaches to pain management can enhance quality 
of life and reduce disability related to chronic pain.

The current study involved 16 men and women, aged 23 to 54 years, who 
were randomized to a treatment group or a non-treatment control group. 
The treatment group participated in 30-minute hypnosis treatment 
sessions once weekly for 10 weeks. Both groups continued to receive 
standard treatments, including analgesic and antidepressant drugs, 
physiotherapy, and chiropractic therapy. After the initial 10-week 
treatment period, the patients in the control group were offered 
hypnosis therapy. Patients completed a 25-item questionnaire 
evaluating pain, fatigue, concentration problems, activities of daily 
living, pain interference in work and social life, anxiety and 
pessimism, and overall quality of life. These subjective scores were 
rated on a scale from 1 to 100, with higher numbers representing more 

In total, 7 patients from the initial treatment group, plus 5 from the 
original control group, completed hypnosis therapy. These 12 patients 
experienced a significant reduction in pain and suffering scores, with 
a mean improvement of 9.9 points, from 51.5 to 41.6. The 7 patients 
from the initial treatment group experienced a significant score 
reduction from 62.5 to 55.4. The 5 patients who completed hypnosis 
treatment after participating in the control group experienced a near 
13-point improvement in functioning, with scores decreasing from 35.97 
to 23.54. The 8 patients in the initial control group showed an 
increase in suffering, with a near 8-point score increase from 37.2 to 

All 12 patients that completed hypnosis therapy completed follow-up 
after 1 year, and reported a score of 41.3, indicating maintenance of 
quality of life improvement. All of the patients reported using self- 
hypnosis methods at least once weekly during the year and would have 
taken advantage of additional hypnosis therapy if it had been available.

Copyright (c) 2007 Seth-Deborah Roth
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