Dr. David B. Starkey

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Controlled Trials of Hypnosis in the Treatment of Chronic-Pain Problems

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 3:20 PM
Thirteen studies, excluding studies of headaches (note: hypnosis in the treatment of headaches is reviewed elsewhere in this issue) were identified that compared outcomes from hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain to either baseline data or a control condition. Hypnosis has been applied to a variety of chronic-pain conditions including those from cancer (Elkins, Cheung, Marcus, Palamara, & Rajab, 2004; Spiegel & Bloom, 1983), low-back problems (McCauley, Thelen, Frank, Willard, & Callen, 1983; Spinhoven & Linssen, 1989), arthritis (Gay, Philippot, & Luminet, 2002), sickle cell disease (Dinges et al., 1997), temporomandibular conditions (Simon & Lewis, 2000; Winocur, Gavish, Emodi-Perlman, Halachmi, & Eli, 2002), fibromyalgia (Haanen et al., 1991), physical disability (Jensen et al., 2005), and mixed etiologies (Appel & Bleiberg, 2005�??2006; Edelson & Fitzpatrick, 1989; Melzack & Perry, 1975). These studies are reviewed in regard to research design and outcomes for each chronic-pain condition. Cancer Pain Spiegel and Bloom (1983) assigned 54 women with chronic cancer pain from breast carcinoma to either standard care (n = 24) or weekly expressive-supportive group therapy for up to 12 months (n = 30). The women randomized to the group therapy condition were assigned to groups that either did or did not have self-hypnosis training as a part of their treatment. The hypnosis intervention was directed toward enhancing patient competence and mastery in managing pain and stress related to cancer. Hypnotic training included suggestions to �??filter out the hurt�?� of any sensations by imagining competing sensations in affected areas. Patients were also given instructions for using self-hypnosis outside of the group-therapy sessions. Both treatment groups demonstrated significantly less pain and suffering than the control sample. Hypnosis was not the main focus of the expressive-supportive group-therapy sessions, however, patients who received hypnosis in addition to group therapy reported significantly (p

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