Hypnotherapy for chronic pain relief and management

When exploring the definition of pain, it becomes clear that pain is a necessary and sometimes life-saving part of our evolution. We experience pain as an alert, an alarm if you like that forces us into recovery. Essentially pain is actual or potential tissue damage and there are three types; acute pain which is short term, persistent or chronic pain which is long term and recurrent or intermittent pain which is pain that comes and goes.


When you experience pain, it is important to speak with a doctor to try and find the cause of the pain so that you can treat the problem. Sometimes chronic pain is the result of a confused messaging system. For example, the chronic pain of arthritis is unnecessary and sometimes debilitating. When you know the cause of your chronic pain and have explored available treatments with your doctor, hypnotherapy for pain management is another complementary or alternative option.

Hypnosis for pain relief – emotional states

Research shows a correlation between emotional states and feelings of pain. When you feel angry, anxious, or depressed your sensitivity to pain is stronger. When you feel happy and positive, pain is easier to manage. There is a vicious circle here because pain can increase feelings of anger, anxiety and depression thus increasing the feelings of pain.

Using hypnosis to stabilise your emotional state will help with chronic pain relief. Anxious thinking often involves a feeling of trying to plan for a future that has unknown variables, using your current circumstances. Other times anxious thoughts focus on the past, however when you have anxious thoughts they rarely focus on the now.

Hypnosis for pain will help you focus on the now, relieving your mind of anxious thoughts.

Your hypnotherapist will teach you techniques to dissolve any anger, so you no longer need to hold the tense negative feelings in your body.

Hypnotherapy for pain relief – managing the pain

If you have read my previous articles you will know that I believe hypnosis and meditation achieve the same state of mind. Those that meditate regularly do so as a form of brain training. It is a way to remain in the present moment, focused and aware, preventing your mind from wandering off into non-beneficial thoughts.

Meditation and hypnosis will also help you to be in control of your physical feelings. Rather than a feeling of pain taking over your whole body and mind, you will learn how to minimise it to the exact spot it comes from and manage it, so you control the feeling rather than the feeling controlling you.

Hypnotherapy for chronic pain – the research

There is a lot of research to show the benefit of hypnosis as a tool for chronic pain relief, a meta-analysis of 85 trials concluded:

“These findings suggest that hypnotic intervention can deliver meaningful pain relief for most people and therefore may be an effective and safe alternative to pharmaceutical intervention.”

Studies have shown that over 75% of people with diseases like and including arthritis experience significant pain relief using hypnosis. In fact, hypnosis is so successful at enabling the user to manage their physical feelings some clinicians use it instead of or alongside anaesthetic. A reduction of medication to achieve analgesia gives the benefits of reduced side effects and a speedier recovery.

Some research indicates that hypnosis as a tool to manage chronic pain relief is sometimes better than other recognised pain management treatments and consistently superior to no treatment.

Hypnotherapy for pain at home 

If you have spoken with your doctor and would like to try hypnotherapy for pain relief you will achieve greater results with the guidance of an experienced therapist, however, there are some techniques you can use at home if one to one therapy is out of reach for you.

1. Positive visualisations

Your brain cannot tell the difference between reality and imaginary. When you imagine something, it will behave as if it is reality. Create your happy place, everyone has a different happy place. Some people like to walk in a forest, others lay on a beach. A paradise garden is a suggestion or floating in a luxurious pool of water with a breath-taking view. Create your happy place and spend as little or long as you like, every day, imagining yourself there and pain-free.

A hand reaching out in the ocean

2. Progressive relaxation

Sit or lay comfortably and close your eyes, take a journey through your body relaxing each part from the tip of your toes to the end of the hair on your head. When you have softened each area and you feel as though you are sinking into the surface beneath, you notice the sensation that you call pain.

Narrow it down to a specific area and imagine it as a shape or object. You can detail this object with a colour, weight, size, texture etc. When the feeling is an object like this you can take control of it. Will you remove it from your body with your mind and throw it away? Will you achieve pain reduction from greater control and less overwhelm? See what works for you.

3. Going within

Using the same relaxation technique as above, when you feel the deepness of relaxation and focus, imagine yourself travelling within. Use your mind to travel internally to the source of your pain. Now you can use visualisations and the power of your mind to 'repair' the source of the pain.

Perhaps you will use an imaginary sewing kit, or some glue. Maybe something needs a good clean with a magic cloth. An imaginary pot of oil or grease might fix the aches and pains of worn joints. Explore the depths of your creativity to use your mind to fix your body.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham, Surrey, GU9
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham, Surrey, GU9

Juliet (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology) is an AnxietyUK therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world.

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