Hypnosis for Migraine Pain Management

Self-hypnosis for migraine pain

It is really unfortunate that the hynosis relaxation therapy has often been misrepresented in movies. Whenever hypnosis was suggested as an alternative solution for migraine pain management, a lot of patients misunderstood and rightly fear that they will be placed under a spell and then forced to perform acts they would usually never do. In reality, all hypnosis is actually self-hypnosis which is a truly wonderful technique that allows you in taking control of your own mind and achieving a state of focused attention.

Hypnosis will always be performed and controlled by the patient. The therapist merely acts as a guide and often as an instructor to teach individuals on how to conduct hypnosis at the initial phase. It is actually impossible to be hypnotized against your will.

Hypnosis therapy originates from the word “hypnos” meaning sleep and dates back to the ancient Greeks. Inductions into tranced states with the appropriate positive therapeutic benefits were a central feature of early Greek healing and subsequent variations on hypnotic trances have been used throughout the centuries. Hypnosis in the modern form began in the eighteenth century when Franz Mesmer used “magnetic healing” (his term for hypnosis) to treat various medical disorders. Hypnosis is also adopted and used by the famed Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Unfortunately, due to a variety of emotions emerging under the treatment, he reverted to his more traditional Freudian therapy and abandoned hypnosis.

Before the advent of anesthesia, hypnosis was a popular and preferred technique of pain management with many minor and some major surgeries being performed under hypnosis. Today, hypnosis is commonly utilized for behavior control, addiction therapy and for cessation of habits such as smoking and drug use.  Hynosis is also currently used as a treatment of anxiety or phobias in the control of pain including migraine headaches.

What is hynosis?

Similar to other forms of relaxation therapy, hypnosis is a form of focused and highly directed concentration. When in this state of concentration, individuals are indeed highly suggestible. Physiologically, hypnosis resembles very deep relaxation as measured by:

  • changes in the autonomic or sympathetic nervous system
  • changes in oxygen flow
  • changes in galvanic skin response which is the measurement of electrical conductivity in the surface of the skin
  • and more organized brain wave activity

The National Institute of Health have reviewed 12 controlled studies in regards to pain management and have demonstrated hypnosis as a superior way to reduce headache pain syndrome in children and teenagers.

In one study, children were divided into two groups where one group were given either propranolol (a blood pressure medicine used for prevention of migraine) or placebo (sugar pill) while the other group were taught self-hypnosis. The children who were taught self-hypnosis experienced a reduction in the frequency and severity of headaches. Another study group experienced dramatic improvement in subjective rating of pain, with those trained in hypnotherapy able to tolerate their headache pain much more easily than those who do not receive hypnosis intervention.

Most often, hypnotherapy is used as a reserve or second line therapy only after the failure of conventional medication and medicine treatments. However, research as well as patient response has clearly demonstrated that hypnotherapy provides better benefits as compared to conventional medications and treatments and hence may be an ideal first-line treatment to help control and ultimately prevent migraine pain syndromes as well as many other types of headache pains. The benefits of hypnosis includes:

  • being a safe and natural therapy
  • having zero side effects as compared to conventional medications that comes with potential side effects.
  • having lasting and much better beneficial effects in comparison to conventional medication.

However just like other relaxation therapies, hypnosis requires a lot of patience and determination and can take some time to master. Patients should patiently practice until hypnosis becomes easier with each session. Eventually individuals should be able to enter into a mild tranced state within a very short period of time ranging from within seconds to one minute. Practicing this treatment modality periodically can lead to very positive long-term clinical results, not only in migraine pain management but also in a general sense of wellness and well-being.