Hypnosis Can Be an Effective Pain Treatment, Meta-Analysis Finds

Suffering from pain? In the near future, your doctor may prescribe hypnosis for you.

Yes, as in the trance-like state where you have heightened focus and are more apt to respond to suggestion. Last month, a meta-analysis (a statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies) published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews found that hypnosis resulted in “clinically meaningful reductions in pain.” To establish their conclusions, researchers reviewed 85 controlled experimental pain trials.

Commonly, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs are used to help treat pain, but the new meta-analysis leaves scientists with promising evidence that hypnosis may deserve a spot at the forefront in fighting pain. The potentially effective and (relatively) low-cost treatment is believed to be mostly free of side effects. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that #hypnosis can have rare side effects including headache, drowsiness, dizziness, anxiety or distress, and creation of false memories.

While you may think hypnosis involves lying back under the spell of a practitioner’s pocket-watch, this meta-analysis determined that the reduction in pain levels that occurred from hypnosis was in a similar range regardless if the person underwent hypnosis with a person or through a taped recording.

“Based on these findings, most people would experience around a 30% drop in pain or more, which is generally considered to be clinically meaningful pain relief,” lead author Trevor Thompson, Ph.D, said in a statement via Medical News Today. “Our findings suggest hypnosis could be a safe and effective alternative [to opioids]. It can be administered quickly, cheaply and easily at home with a 20-minute audio recording.”

Despite the encouraging results, the authors express certain limitations of their review, such as the difference in impact of hypnosis on short-term pain versus chronic pain and hypnosis’ long-term effect on the latter.

What do you think of hypnosis helping with pain relief? Have you or someone you know experienced any reduction in pain as a result of trying this form of therapy? Share with us on our Facebook page.

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