Can hypnosis help alleviate the symptoms of Fibromyalgia?
Although little is known as to what causes fibromyalgia, it seems that the central nervous system is affected and that the feeling of pain comes from subtle changes in certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These become oversensitive to pain signals rather than being affected tissues themselves.
What is fibromyalgia?
Around 2% of the population are thought to develop symptoms of fibromyalgia, with women being affected more than men. Symptoms normally appear between the ages of 25 and 55, and the pain and tenderness can be felt all over the body - particularly being concentrated in the back and neck area. Stress plays a major factor along with cold conditions and carrying out strenuous activities in exacerbating the condition. Therefore it is important that the person’s mental health and well-being is looked after.
Chronic fatigue is often felt with a lingering feeling of exhaustion experienced even on awakening from a full night’s sleep. Fibromyalgia can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for many years and only after studying historical evidence and receiving a thorough physical examination and undergoing blood tests to rule out other causes is a diagnosis made. Fibromyalgia affects the fibrous tissues such as the ligaments and tendons but unlike arthritis, it does not affect the joints.
Doctors may recommend a treatment programme combining medication, exercise and alternative therapies such as hypnosis. The medication is often in the form of painkillers and sometimes also antidepressants which can also be used to ease pain and improve all over function. Exercise has also been proven to help the symptoms of fibromyalgia such as swimming, walking and yoga. Exercise also improves a person’s mental health by releasing naturally occurring endorphins.
Hypnosis for fibromyalgia
Hypnosis is emerging as one of the best alternative therapies in alleviating the pain of fibromyalgia. Many doctors are now recommending hypnosis as a viable treatment in the management of pain. A recent study carried out at the University of Iowa studied what happens to the brain during hypnosis. Researchers monitored chronic sufferers of fibromyalgia in a hypnotic trance. It showed that there was reduced activity in the pain network area of the brain particularly in the area of the brain responsible for ‘feeling’ pain. It would suggest that using hypnosis as a treatment actually has a physical effect on the brain.
Hypnosis can be used to alleviate many of the associated symptoms experienced by sufferers allowing them to better manage the frequency and intensity of flare-ups. The National Institute of Health in the US conducted a study showing that fibromyalgia sufferers who used hypnosis to manage their symptoms reported 80% fewer painful episodes as opposed to those who did not use hypnosis.
Many people have stated that fibromyalgia often develops after a very stressful or traumatic experience. Hypnosis can deal with the root cause of the problem which can then clear the way to a clearer mind and aid recovery. By addressing the co-existing symptoms like anxiety and stress, hypnosis can help the person feel better and better equipped to deal with Fibromyalgia as they learn to take control of their condition and manage their pain. This in itself can make a marked improvement to their well-being. A positive approach can make a real difference to the long term prognosis.
A common symptom of fibromyalgia is sleep deprivation. The quality of sleep can be poor leaving the person feeling continuously exhausted. Hypnosis can be used to enhance the quality of sleep which in turn can improve fibromyalgia symptoms as the body requires rest to heal. Hypnosis can also influence the autonomic nervous system which can enhance mental and emotional peace by enabling the person to take control of their condition and helping themselves.
Teaching someone with fibromyalgia to control their own pain using self-hypnosis can allow them to take control of their own life and by empowering them it puts the person in a more positive frame of mind. As fibromyalgia can be a very distressing, debilitating condition affecting the quality of life and lifestyle of sufferers it can lead to depression, therefore, it is important that the mind is healthy and hypnosis can help with this.
The person can be shown relaxation techniques which can be used to control breathing using the imagination to expel the pain and breathe in fresh, revitalising, energising air. Visualisation techniques can aid with developing coping strategies to decrease symptoms and improve the person’s lifestyle. These techniques have been proven to be very beneficial in aiding the person to manage their condition and lessen the severity of the symptoms.
In conclusion, whilst hypnosis is not a cure for fibromyalgia, it can certainly alleviate the symptoms experienced, giving the person control of their body and improving their quality of life.
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