Pain Management

Hypnotherapy and Pain Management

Hypnotherapy for pain management is the most clinically proven use of hypnotherapy. Many many trials have been conducted on the efficacy of managing pain through hypnotherapy, and they are always successful when well led.

Through hynotherapy, clients can expect to learn new ways to understand their pain. They can also learn to work with their minds to curb away from the difficulties that pain can bring into life. Instead, with a little bit of self-care, we can reach for greater peace and contentment, living with the pain that’s there, and releasing that which doesn’t need to be.


Tangled Garden

The nervous system doesn’t just translate pain to the brain. It also acts like a gate – opening and closing depending on the signals we give to it.

Pain is therefore controllable. You can manage it.


What is Pain?

Pain really has two parts.

One is the signal – the electro-chemical communication between the body (nerves) and the brain. This tells us ‘where’ and ‘how bad’.

The other part is our response to the pain signal. This can take many forms, from dismissal to panic.

Hypnotherapy is not intent on changing the first part. The body’s ability to communicate that there is something wrong is vital. In many ways, it is life-saving. The rare people that cannot feel pain are in far more danger than are the people who feel it too much. Too much, however, carries its own set of problems. What hypnotherapy can help with is the second part – our response to the pain.

The way people usually respond to pain varies for a few reasons.

  • One reason is our different experience with pain. People with a traumatic experience of pain might be more sensitive to pain, fearing the trauma might become repeated.
  • Others might become numb to it, as a way of not having to feel such pain again.

People with more tactile sensitivities might become more anxious or upset when something hurts – not because the pain signal is overwhelming, but because they are highly sensitive to pain sensations. More sensitivity can therefore also mean more anxiety.

Expectation can play both for and against you.


Stress and Pain

Research shows that pain and stress are intimately related. Muscles ache, spasm and cramp. They can’t relax. They can’t switch off.

This loop is sealed when pain then causes stress.

Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This is fight, flight or freeze. It is danger. It is fear. Fear creates fear. Stress creates stress. Just reading this has probably raised your heart rate a little.

Stress responses also trigger the release of both adrenaline and cortisol into the body. This actually damages the body and the brain if it stays in the body for too long. Weight gain increases. Immunity weakens. Inflammation gets worse. The longer the stress, the greater the damage.


Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This is fight, flight or freeze. It is danger. It is fear. Fear creates fear. Stress creates stress. Just reading this has probably raised your heart rate a little.

Stress responses also trigger the release of both adrenaline and cortisol into the body. This actually damages the body and the brain if it stays in the body for too long. Weight gain increases. Immunity weakens. Inflammation gets worse. The longer the stress, the greater the damage.


Over time, these conditions become chronic, with greater or more continuous pain.

Hypnotherapy and relaxation help to calm the stress response, and move from the sympathetic system being on – to the parasympathic system being on – deep relaxation, calm, settledness: Peace.


How can Hypnotherapy help with Pain Management?

The following are just a few examples of how hypnotherapy might make an impact on pain sensation and pain responsiveness.

Hypnotherapy can teach us how to dissociate somewhat from the pain – to move out of our fear of pain, our anticipation of pain, and nurture the body’s ability to modulate its pain responses so that they still communicate vital information, but not so much that we get caught up in them.

It can teach us to connect with the body in such a way that pain signals do not need to be so overwhelming to be heard, to be registered – to be taken seriously.

Finally, hypnotherapy can help to manage our pain response – to be less bothered by it.

In doing so, the damaging cycle of stress, anxiety and inflammation can be broken, and chronic pain alleviated. The more often this happens, the more control you can get over your life. The more often you practice, the more powerfully these therapeutic techniques become.


What We Won’t Do

What we will not attempt in hypnotherapy is to remove physical causes of pain. That is not our realm. Only to nurture a more balanced system – to create ways to adjust and manage the signals that fly through us at any given moment – so that we can live our lives in such a way that we are not limited, demoralised or damaged in ways that are unnecessary and chronic.


What is important to know is that hypnotherapy and focused relaxation exercises can make a massive impact to settle and move out of the stress-pain cycle – to manage pain more successfully and to feel more at ease in your body.