Hypnosis and Fibromyalgia
If you suffer from Fibromyalgia you know just how dispiriting this illness is, because you live in a state of constant, unrelenting pain.
Then to make matters worse, this pain has no clearly identifiable cause. It didn't happen because you tripped or hurt yourself. Instead it just mysteriously arose and then took over your life.
And while this pain is spread out over your entire body, it is probably particularly bad in your knees, hips, spine, shoulders and neck.
And not only is this constant pain physically exhausting, especially since it prevents you from getting a good night's sleep, it is also emotionally exhausting. As a result, your world grows smaller and smaller because you no longer have the energy to engage in social activities and do the things you once loved to do.
Fortunately, hypnosis can be used to help you lead a richer, more rewarding life.
It can be used to reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep. It can help you recover more quickly from those injuries and infections that just make your symptoms even worse. And if various subconscious processes play some kind of a role in this illness, then hypnosis might even be able to dramatically improve your life.
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Fibromyalgia Fact Sheet
Fibromyalgia is characterized by constant pain and stiffness throughout the body. It is particularly painful in the muscles, joints and connective tissues. It affects more women than men.
- a possible connection to a chemical imbalance in the brain;
- a possible connection to an auto-immune disorder.
- widespread pain in the muscles and joints;
- certain areas are painful when touched;
- it is made worse by strain and overuse;
- it is made worse by tiredness and fatigue;
- it peaks in the morning and when the weather changes;
- it can include sudden muscles spasms (like a charley horse);
- difficulty sleeping and inability to have a refreshing sleep;
- constantly feeling tired and worn out;
- constant headaches;
- improved by massage and gentle movements.
- physical and mental stress;
- lack of sleep;
- exposure to cold or dampness;
- poor diet and nutrition.
How Hypnosis Can Help You
If you have Fibromyalgia, hypnosis is ideally suited to helping you deal with this condition because:
- it can reduce your experience of pain and lower the need for medication;
- it can help improve the quality and depth of your sleep;
- it can alleviate harmful emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression that just make things worse;
- it can make you feel more positive and joyful about life;
- it can enhance your ability to resume everyday activities;
- it can help to control the severity of your symptoms;
- it can enhance other treatments;
- it can enhance your innate capacity to heal yourself;
- it can help to improve your immune system;
- it can help by allowing you to dissociate yourself (focus your mind and attention elsewhere) from your pain so that it is not nearly as intolerable;
- it can help you improve your diet and exercise more effectively;
- it can help if there is a link between a specific emotional trauma and the onset of your fibromyalgia;
it can help if your fibromyalgia involves any subconscious and state-dependent processes.
Some Research That Proves These Claims...
The scientific research is conclusive. If you are capable of entering into a moderately deep state of hypnosis (something 70% of the population can achieve), then hypnosis can help you. Here is a summation of some of these studies...
Controlled Trial of Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Refractory Fibromyalgia. Rheumatol. 1991 Jan;18(1):72-5 . Haanen HC, Hoenderdos HT, van Romunde LK, Hop WC, Mallee C, Terwiel JP, Hekster GB.
Forty patients who were suffering from refractory fibromyalgia were randomly put into either a control group (where they received physical therapy) and a hypnosis group for 12 weeks. They were all reassessed again after 24 weeks. The group that received hypnosis reported feeling significantly better than the physical therapy group in terms of pain, sleeping patterns, and fatigue upon waking-up. The hypnosis group also reported experiencing significantly lower physical and mental levels of discomfort as determined by the Hopkins Symptom Checklist.
Functional Anatomy of Hypnotic Analgesia: A PET Study of Patients with Fibromyalgia. European Journal of Pain. Vol. 3(1) 1999; 7-12. Wik G, Fischer H, Bragée B, Finer B, Fredrikson M.
In an attempt to understand what happens in the brain when a person is hypnotized and then given suggestions for pain relief, subjects were recruited who were suffering from the painful condition of fibromyalgia. PET (positron emission tomography) scans were then taken of their brains when they were resting and then when they were in a state of hypnotically-induced analgesia. The subjects all reported experiencing less pain when they were in the state of hypnosis, then they did when they were in a state of rest. The researchers also found that there were significant differences in the way the blood flowed through the brain in these two states. They found that during hypnotically-induced analgesia the blood flow "was bilaterally increased in the orbitofrontal and subcallosial cingulate cortices, the right thalamus, and the left inferior parietal cortex, and was decreased bilaterally in the cingulate cortex." This study proved that hypnosis leads to real physical changes in the brain.
Other Studies That Prove Hypnosis Can Reduce Stress and Improve the Functioning of the Immune System
Can Relaxation Training and Hypnotherapy Modify the Immune Response To Stress, and is Hypnotizability Relevant? Contemporary Hypnosis Vol.13 (2);100 – 108 Johnson VC, Walker LG, Heys SD, Whiting PH, Eremin O.
Twenty-four healthy subjects were assigned to either relaxation training that involved hypnosis or to a control group. The subjects were brought back three times where they were given various psychological tests and had samples of their blood and urine collected. On their second visit (20 days after the first) they gave samples of their blood and urine before and after they were exposed to a “stressor.” Those who had received the hypnotic relaxation training had a better immune response (as measured by “lymphocyte responsiveness and IL-1 secretion”) than the other group. However, after further analysis it was found that among the members of this group, there was a direct correlation between those whose immune systems performed the best and those who had the highest scores on the Creative Imagination Scale (one of the tests often used to assess hypnotizability).
Hypnosis is a Modulator of Cellular Immune Disregulation During Acute Stress. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Vol 69(4), Aug 2001, 674-682. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Marucha PT, Atkinson C, Glaser R.
This study involved 33 medical and dental students who were selected because they were considered to be susceptible to hypnosis. Initial samples of their blood were taken during a period of low stress. Then they were then split into two groups: one serving as the control group, and the other receiving training in hypnosis for relaxation. The group that received hypnosis, on average, did not show the same decrease in CD3+ and CD4+ T-lymphocytesinterleukin 1 (which plays an important inflammatory role against infections) as the control group. It was also noted that an increase in the use of hypnosis for relaxation was associated with higher levels of CD3+ and CD4+ T-lymphocytes. This study concluded that hypnosis can help reduce the negative effect highly stressful situations have on our immune system.
Self-Hypnosis and Exam Stress: Comparing Immune and Relaxation-Related Imagery for Influences on Immunity, Health and Mood. Contemporary Hypnosis Vol18 (2):73 – 86. Gruzelier J, Levy J, Williams J, Henderson D.
Medical School students were recruited for this research project to study the effect that training in self-hypnosis has on mood, health and the functioning of the immune system during exam time. They were broken into two groups where they were trained in 3 weekly group sessions and then given a self-hypnosis audio-recording and encouraged to listen to it at home. The control group received 'relaxation-related-imagery' training, while the study group received 'immune-related-imagery' training. The participants then had samples of their blood taken during exam time to determine the levels of various lymphocytes (CD3, CD4, CD8, & CD19), natural killer cells (CD56). Those students who had received the 'immune-related-imagery' reported lower levels of viral illnesses, such as colds and the flu, than those who had only received the 'relaxation-related-imagery.' The 'immune-related-imagery' group also did not experience the same lowering of the levels in their lymphocytes as the other group did. This study concludes that self-hypnosis can improve the functioning of the immune system and lead to improvements in well-being.
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