Pain that persists for longer than 6 months is referred to as chronic pain. Unrelieved chronic pain can cause considerable suffering, physical limitations, and emotional distress. Further, chronic pain is one of the most common reasons for seeking medical care but often persists despite treatment with analgesics and physical modalities. For example, epidemiologic studies indicate that approximately 11% to 45% of individuals in the United States experience chronic back pain, 75% of patients with advanced cancer suffer persistent pain, and chronic pain is the most common reason for the use of complementary and alternative therapies.
Interest in mind-set techniques including hypnosis for pain management has increased with recent evidence that hypnosis can reduce pain (and costs) associated with medical procedures, and there are now an adequate number of controlled studies of hypnosis to draw meaningful conclusions from the literature regarding chronic pain Hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain generally, but not always, involves a hypnotic induction with suggestions for relaxation and comfort. Posthypnotic suggestions may be given for reduced pain that can continue beyond the session or that the patient can quickly and easily create a state of comfort using a cue (i.e., taking a deep breath and exhaling as eye lids close). The focus of hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain also often involves teaching the patient self-hypnosis or providing tape recordings of hypnosis sessions that can be used to reduce pain on a daily basis outside the sessions. Some patients experience an immediate reduction in pain severity following hypnosis treatment, whereas others can obtain reduction in pain with repeated practice of self-hypnosis or hypnosis sessions. To further your knowledge, this study by Elkins, Jensen & Patterson on Hypnotherapy for the Management of Chronic Pain makes a compelling read.