Pain Management Course

Understanding Pain Management

In my work I speak with many individuals who suffer with chronic pain. Sometimes understanding more about an issue can help. I have put together some amended excerpts from my PhD thesis into as succinct a piece as possible to explain how hypnosis can help with chronic pain. I hope it is of value to even one person who suffers with chronic pain…

Pain is a complex phenomenon and over the years several authorities in the field have proposed theories to help explain how pain is perceived. Many of these theories of pain were initially based on biomedical conceptualizations of pain. These theories such as The Specificity Theory, The Intensity Theory and the Pattern Theory have contributed to our understanding of the physiological basis of pain but none have accounted for a full explanation of pain perception.

Early biomedical theories of pain suggested that pain arose specifically from a physiological anomaly or pathology.  For some time it was assumed that there was a direct link between tissue damage and pain experience yet the experience of pain does not provide a reliable indication of the presence of tissue damage. Phantom limb pain is an example of this – pain can be perceived as being within the missing limb, yet the limb is no longer present. Modern conceptualizations of pain recognize that the pain experience is more complex and is influenced by psychological (affective, cognitive, behavioural) and social factors leading to the adoption of biopsychosocial models of pain.

The current International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) definition of pain can be considered to reflect a biopsychosocial model. This conceptualization has implications for how pain is treated, meaning that due consideration in treatment is given to addressing the psychological and social factors in addition to the physiological factors. While medication is often useful in treating pain, there are often unpleasant side effects. Additionally, the prolonged use of analgesics can result in hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain).

Hypnosis is an interesting tool which can address the emotional, cognitive, sensory and behavioral components of pain. The efficacy of face to face hypnosis in the treatment of pain is well documented (Hammond, 2007; Jensen & Patterson, 2006) and  hypnotic suggestions have the capacity to influence disability and negative thinking. Hypnosis is also proven to modulate pain generation, secondary neurons sensitization and endocrine immune responses (Carli 2009). What this means for the person suffering with pain is that the potential exists to feel more in control, to experience reduced stress levels and to have the capacity to engage in activities which  they otherwise may have avoided because of the threat of impending pain. Many studies investigating hypnosis and chronic pain have shown that it has the capacity to elicit a reduction in pain intensity also.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about how we can use our minds to alter pain patterns you may be interested in a course we are running at The Galway Clinic in November 2016. See here for further details. The course will provide an introduction to hypnosis and an insight in to how our thoughts can shape our perception of pain. It will also investigate strategies which can assist in altering pain perception and which can be used to manage pain.

© Niamh Flynn. Bodywatch Ltd.  2020. All rights Reserved.

Aimed at health care professionals who wish to learn more about how they can use the power of language to assist in pain control for acute and chronic pain patients. Those attending might include Nurses, Consultants, Dentists, Doctors, Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists.

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