Millions of people live with chronic pain. In fact, just reading recent news reports shows that Americans are in a crisis, with few options available to help reduce or eliminate ongoing pain other than opiates.

Before addressing ways to eliminate or reduce pain, we must make a distinction between acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain can be severe or mild and typically lasts a shorter time; hours, days, weeks or sometimes months and often requires medical attention to prevent further damage to the body. Pain, in these cases, can be useful as it signals a problem that needs attention to prevent further damage.

Chronic pain often lasts longer than six months, and can continue long after an injury or illness has healed. It can also be either mild or severe though, over time, sensitivity to the pain can result in it actually increasing. In these cases, when a medical professional has ruled out a condition that requires medical treatment, pain may no longer be useful for preventing further damage. However, it can still be an indicator that something in a person’s physical or emotional environment needs to change. Without some type of change, chronic pain can negatively impact all aspects of a person’s life.

According to spinal surgeon Dr. David Hanscom in his book, “Back in Control”, “The essence of the chronic pain problem is that often no one can find the source of the pain and no one believes you.” Based on his professional and personal experience he has developed a non-surgical program to address all aspects that contribute to chronic pain. Dr. John Sarno, many years earlier, also described the psychological origins of chronic pain and how our brain uses pain to distract us from experiencing negative emotions.

This is where hypnosis can be extremely helpful. Because chronic pain can be a result of both physical and emotional factors, addressing those factors can reduce or eliminate chronic pain. To put it simply the part of the mind that keeps the heart beating and the other life processes operating in the background (outside of conscious awareness), has the ability to alter those processes and therefore alter the perceptions and behaviors of a person. The power of hypnosis lies in accessing and communicating with that part of the consciousness – sometimes called the subconscious or unconscious mind.

A familiar example is using hypnosis to lose weight, or to stop smoking. It is not that the hypnosis “makes” a person stop the behavior, but it addresses the anxiety, or grief, or other underlying negative emotion that triggers the smoking or overeating behavior. Without the anxiety, the person is free to choose to either engage in the behavior or not. It puts the client back in control of their habits and behaviors.

Similarly, without the underlying feelings of stress from anxiety, trauma, and grief, a chronic pain client can often release the underlying cause of the pain and find total relief rapidly and permanently. While the use of hypnosis is well documented for controlling or eliminating acute pain perception too (as in surgeries done without anesthesia or natural childbirth), working with chronic pain is a different process and focuses on releasing the cause of the pain instead of masking it temporarily. It can calm the nervous system, relieve the symptoms of stress and, at the very least, is a profoundly relaxing experience with no side effects.

If you are experiencing chronic pain and have ruled out a purely physiological condition with your physician, you may wish to contact a hypnotist who is trained in working with chronic pain. An ethical hypnotist will work with your medical professional and is happy to answer any questions you may have about the process and experience of hypnosis.