Severe chest pain is a common problem, yet when it can’t be put down to a heart condition it becomes difficult to treat as the cause is unknown.
Despite assurances that there is nothing to worry about, many people are often incapacitated by their chest pain and unable to complete average daily tasks and go about their normal lives. The condition is particularly rife among young women and certain experts have linked the condition to psychological problems, or heartburn.
A small UK study conducted in the journal Gut found that 12 out of 15 people treated with hypnotherapy reported an improvement in their symptoms.
Researchers at Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital randomly divided 28 patients with the condition into two groups, with one group receiving 12 hypnotherapy sessions and the other given “supportive therapy” and dummy medicine.
80% of the hypnotherapy group reported significant pain relief alongside a significantly improved sense of overall wellbeing and reduced use of painkillers and other drugs prescribed for the condition. The success of hypnotherapy where other treatments have failed can be put down to a number of factors. For instance, brain scans of patients treated with hypnotherapy for other conditions show that it affects a region of the brain that processes emotional content of a painful stimulus. It can also work by cutting levels of gastric acid produced by the stomach and helping patients to relax.
Lead researcher Professor Peter Whorwell told the BBC News website it could be that hypnotherapy reduced NCCP by reducing the sensitivity of the gullet, or the strength of its contractions. He said: “What is clear is that simply reassuring these patients that there is nothing seriously wrong is not enough. We have shown that if you can modify their symptoms and improve their stress levels then they seem to do quite well.”