Hypnosis for Pain Management


Hypnosis therapy, also known as hypnosis, hypnotherapy, or hypnotic suggestion, involves the use of a trance-like state that facilitates heightened awareness and concentration. Individuals under hypnosis usually feel calm and relaxed and can easily concentrate with intensity on a particular thought, memory or feeling. In addition, individuals under hypnosis are also more susceptible to suggestions, which can be useful in modifying behaviors and emotions. In the therapeutic setting, hypnosis is often used to help improve health and well-being. Therapeutic hypnosis does not compromise an individual’s free will or ability to control their behavior.

Hypnosis is used in conjunction with other therapies to aid in treating a variety of medical conditions and behaviors, such as: pain, smoking, mental health conditions, allergies and asthma, childbirth, weight loss, athletic performance, dental procedures, dermatological conditions, and gastrointestinal problems. Hypnosis can also be used to help individuals reduce stress related to medical procedures, promote relaxation prior to surgical preparation, and help cope with chemotherapy. Hypnosis for pain management has been used in relation to many chronic pain conditions.

Hypnosis is generally considered safe when administered by a trained therapist or other healthcare provider. Rare side effects can include headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, panic attacks, and the creation of false memories.

Hypnosis and Fibromyalgia

Castel et al. (2012) demonstrated the effectiveness of hypnosis-enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy on improved pain severity, catastrophizing, psychological distress, functionality, and sleep in individuals with fibromyalgia (Castel et al., 2012). A small study by Grondahl & Rosvold also found that patients with chronic widespread pain who received hypnosis experienced improvements in pain and quality of life following ten consecutive weekly sessions of hypnosis (Grondahl & Rosvold, 2008). Another study, published in a Spanish-language scientific journal, compared the use of hypnosis administered to 20 fibromyalgia patients against a control group of sham-hypnosis administered to 23 fibromyalgia patients. The researchers found no effect on the functional status of patients, however those who received hypnosis experienced a reduction in the number of tender points (Alzarez-Nemegyei et al., 2007). Haanen and colleagues compared the effects of 12 weeks of hypnotherapy versus physical therapy in 40 fibromyalgia patients. The authors found that pain, fatigue, sleep patterns, and overall functioning were improved in the group that received hypnosis at both the end of the study, as well as three months later (Haanen et al., 1991).

Significant additional research exists to support the use of hypnosis in treating a number of symptoms associated with Fibromyalgia including key causal symptoms such as depression, anxiety and stress. The effectiveness of hypnosis for treating Fibromyalgia will vary from patient to patient. As the above noted research studies indicate, for some individuals hypnosis for Fibromyalgia can be an effective treatment option while for others it may prove a complete waste of time. This reality is however common when it comes to treatment therapies associated with Fibromyalgia. Given the low risk nature of hypnosis as a Fibromyalgia treatment and the long history of its effectiveness relative to some Fibromyalgia symptoms, hypnosis is a therapy option Fibromyalgia patients struggling to find effective treatment options should consider testing.



1.        Hypnosis. Mayo Clinic.  December 19, 2009; Accessed April 25, 2012.

2.        Castel A, Cascon R, Padrol A, Sala J, Rull M. Multicomponent cognitive-behavioral group therapy with hypnosis for the treatment of fibromyalgia: long-term outcome. J Pain. 2012;13(3):255-265.

3.        Grondahl JR, Rosvold EO. Hypnosis as a treatment of chronic widespread pain in general practice: a randomized controlled pilot trial. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008;9:124.

4.        Alvarez-Nemegyei J, Negreros-Castillo A, Nuno-Gutierrez BL, Alvarez-Berzunza J, Alxoxer-Martinez LM. Ericksonian hypnosis in women with fibromyalgia syndrome. Rev Med Inst Mex Seguro Soc. 2007;45(4):395-401.

Haanen HC, Hoenderdos HT, van Romunde LK, Hop WC, Mallee C, Terwiel JP, Hekster GB. Controlled trial of hypnotherapy in the treatment of refractory fibromyalgia. J Rheumatol. 1991;18(1):72-75.

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