Joint hypermobility syndrome and hypnosis
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) is a genetic condition whereby the ligaments surrounding the joints become extended and stretch further than normal. It is estimated that up to 15% of the population suffer from JHS, although few people know they suffer from this condition until they experience one of the many myriad of painful symptoms, most often a dislocation of a joint.
Being flexible sounds a wonderful asset especially if you are a dancer, performer or want to keep fit. Whilst this may be true for some it can be a seriously debilitating condition, especially when the ligaments become hyperextended, and the actual joints become vulnerable. This may result in dislocations of the knees, hips, ankles, shoulders and jaw. Moreover, the joints may click or a person may become lame after exercise that may last days or weeks. They may also suffer from extreme tiredness and generally feeling unwell and ‘washed out’. Ironically, dislocations of the joints may occur in quite innocuous circumstances including changing position whilst asleep, resulting in dislocation of the knee.
One of the most common symptoms of JHS is pain. The pain is thought to arise because of the damage to the connective tissue of the ligaments, muscle and tendons which have become too flexible and thus unstable, which then predisposes the joint to dislocate. The duration of pain may last a few days to many years and that JHS sufferers may have a poor response to pain killers especially non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.
Hypnosis has been shown to be effective in relation to pain management of JHS. Research has found that hypnosis is effective for both acute and chronic pain. More specifically progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), often adopted by hypnotherapists in order to induce a trance, has been shown to be effective in itself as when a person relaxes as their perception of pain lessons.
There are two effective applications of hypnosis to relieve pain for people with JHS, glove anaesthesia and the dial technique.
Glove anaesthesia involves giving direct suggestions to the client (whilst they are under hypnosis) that their hand is being immersed in a solution of cold water which will then cause it to become numb. The ‘numb’ hand than acts as an anaesthetic by transferring the numbness to any other body part that it touches. Research has found this to be extremely effective for pain management and stiffness of joints.
The dial method involves switching down the intensity of pain. The procedure usually involves asking the client the intensity of their pain prior to hypnosis, rating it from zero to ten (no pain to excruciating pain). The client is then asked the desired number they wish the pain to be turned down (normally this is no lower than three as pain itself is a valuable warning system).
When the client is hypnotised they are instructed to visualise the switch or dial and turn it down slowly to the desired number. This method has been found to be extremely powerful in the control of pain in chronic conditions such as JHS. A similar technique can be adopted by having a client imagine a nerve block injection being administered.
If you have been diagnosed with suffering from JHS, then hypnosis may assist in the reduction pain and stiffness of this debilitating condition.
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About James Tiley
James Tiley is a hypnotherapist based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Originally he trained in Psychology and was a researcher at both Cardiff and Bristol Universities.
He specialises in hypnosis for IBS, pain management especially for hypermobility syndrome, weight-loss and quit smoking