You’re probably thinking, “It’s a horrible feeling you get when something is wrong with your body, and there’s not much you can do about it”. It’s a bit simpler than that.
Pain is a message.
That’s it. Just a message. It’s an electrical impulse that travels from one part of our body, to a communications centre in our brain. The communications centre receives the electrical impulse, “reads” it as “pain”, and then takes the appropriate action.
Let’s say you stick your foot in a fire. Your foot will burn, causing an electrical message to rush to your brain’s communication centre. The reply is “Remove foot from fire”, so other electrical impulses carry that message throughout your brain and body, causing your leg to move away from the fire. All of this takes just nanoseconds, of course. The more urgent the “message”, the sharper the pain we experience. This is important, too. Our brain needs to be able to tell the difference between acceptable pain – say, the fatigue of muscles during a long jog – and important pain, such as burns or breaks.
Okay, so pain is a message, sent from a part of our body, to our brain, in order to provoke a reasonable response or reaction, in order to keep us safe. It’s an essential tool for survival.
The problem many people experience is when the “pain” message never turns off. This is known as chronic pain, and it means that you have survived something, but part of your body is still sending the message, thinking it’s helping you stay alive.
The question then becomes – how do you deal with this chronic pain? How do you learn to cope with it? Minimise it? Is medication and barbiturates the only answer?
I want you to imagine for a moment that you are in a rush. You dash out of your house, jump into your car, and slam the car door – right onto your hand! You’ve just crushed all your fingers in the car door. How much does that hurt? A lot, right? It’s sharp, hot, horrible pain, and your brain is quickly taking the necessary steps to resolve the problem. It’s made you kick the door open again, remove your hand, and gently hold it in your good hand, checking for breaks. You’re already wondering whether or not you’ll even be able to drive now.
If you were to give your pain a number out of 10, to describe the severity of pain that you are experiencing right now, what would it be? If 0 is no pain at all, and 10 is the most amount of pain you can ever imagine, then squashing your hand roughly in the car door would probably be a 6, maybe even a 7. We’ll call it a 7, just for the purposes of this exercise.
Is there any way, right there and then, that you can change that? Is there any way you can turn that 7 into a 3? Or a 10?
No? let’s just see.
Let’s go back to the beginning, where you’re in a rush, and you dash out to your car, and you slam the door onto your hand, and you experience intense pain that you would rate at a 7, and you probably can’t drive now. The reason why you were in a rush was because – you’d just got a phone call, telling you that your 5 year old daughter has fallen off the monkey bars at school, broken her leg, and is on the way to the hospital, and asking for you.
How’s your hand now?
Is it still a 7? Do you still think you can’t drive?
I’m willing to bet that your pain level would be 3, maybe 4, but that you will experience no problem driving. In fact, you probably won’t even think twice about whether you’re able to – your child needs you, and your pain has just become irrelevant.
Now imagine the reason why you were in such a hurry was because – you were running late for a dental appointment, where you’re about to have all four wisdom teeth extracted.
How’s the hand now? Can you drive?
Once again, I’d be willing to bet that your pain level has suddenly gone from a 7, to a 10. There’s no way you can drive with that kind of pain. You have to cancel the dentist, and get your neighbour to drive you to the doctor instead.
Same injury, different perspective.
Now, imagine you were in a rush and bandaged your hand up because you are on your way to pick up your winning lottery cheque of $1 million.
I’m guessing you’re thinking to yourself, as you drive to the Lotto store, how lucky you are that your pain levels are so low – only a 2 – given what a whacking you gave your hand! You make a mental note to get your hand X-rayed for breaks, after you’ve collected your cheque.
Pain is a message. How we perceive that message is up to us. We decide whether we’re having a Winning Lotto Ticket Day, or a Trip to the Dentist Day, and that’s what we filter our pain through. If we have a lot of negative things that are causing stress, concern, fear, anxiety, depression, or negative self-talk, then any pain we experience, no matter how light, will be made worse, simply because of our environment.
This is why hypnotherapy is so successful when helping people manage chronic pain. Not only does your hypnotherapist access your subconscious, and suggest to it that you can handle your pain easily, but she can also deal with those other issues that add to your pain. Its pain relief, and life relief, and its all drug free.
The truly worrying thing about pain is its side effects. People with chronic pain may experience an increase in stress, metabolic rate, blood clotting, and water retention. Pain patients can have delayed healing, hormonal imbalances, impaired immune systems and gastro-intestinal functioning, mobility difficulties, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, suffering, low self-esteem, and depression. (Bedard Marcia E, PhD, Fact Sheet on Chronic Non-malignant Pain, [Online] July 15, 1997) None of these conditions can be cured by taking pain medications. Learning to control and decrease your pain through relaxation and hypnotherapy will have a positive flow-on effect to many other areas of your life.
If you suffer from chronic debilitating conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, irritable bowel syndrome, or tension headaches, studies have proven that hypnotherapy can lessen, and in some cases, eliminate, your pain. Hypnotherapy is also extremely useful for patients in the post-operative phase, especially where the patient is afraid of needles, or allergic to certain types of pain medications.
A word of caution
It is essential that the cause of pain be fully known and understood, before hypnotherapy takes place. Headaches could be a sign of stress, or they could also be a sign of brain tumour. Due to the success of hypnotherapy in dealing with so many different types of pain, from headaches to cancer, it could be possible to eliminate the pain, while leaving behind the tumour. It is therefore important that all medical care is taken to ensure there is not an undiagnosed underlying cause of the pain. If in doubt, consult your doctor before undergoing hypnotherapy for pain management.