Stress is more and more widely recognised for playing a large and significant role in physical illness. As many conditions are directly or indirectly linked to stress, the reduction and management of stress has now become more important than ever.
Chronic pain refers to pain that has lasted for months or even years. It can be ongoing, continuous or episodic. The levels of pain can vary from mild to excruciating. Chronic pain is different from acute pain. Acute pain usually signals an injury or immediate physical problem and will subside when the injury/problem has been treated. Chronic pain may persist as a result of an initial injury, or it may be connected with an ongoing condition or illness. Sometimes there is no clear cause of the pain. Chronic pain can be very debilitating, limiting and restrictive, affecting all areas of life.
Our body’s response to pain is the same as to stress: our muscles tense, our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, and so on. We may want to tense the area that hurts in an effort to brace the ‘injury’ and prevent further damage being done. While this reaction may be useful for a broken arm, it is less helpful when dealing with chronic pain.
In addition, there is often an emotional element to our pain, especially if we have been suffering for a long time. This negative and emotional state causes us further to feel stressed and depressed, keeping the stress response switched on.
The key here is relaxation. As we relax, our heart rate and blood pressure decrease, our muscles relax and we stop producing stress hormones. Our sense of well-being and happiness increases, and we effectively feel less pain.
Hypnotherapy is very helpful at managing pain. In fact, hypnosis can be used as an anaesthetic when undergoing dental work and has even been used for major surgery in countries like Belgium for many years. Hypnotherapy has also been shown to have a positive effect on post-operative recovery times.
Hypnotherapy can help manage chronic pain by helping to relax and switch off the stress response in the brain. When relaxed, we can then start producing more of the needed neurotransmitter serotonin, which has a very beneficial effect on pain relief.
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