Hypnosis and pain

Alternative names
Pain relief by acupuncture; Acupuncture and pain; Alternative medicine - pain relief


For many people acupuncture is an effective means of relieving pain. This may be particularly true for back pain and headache pain. Other types of pain that may be helped by acupuncture include arthritis (both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), musculoskeletal injuries (like to the neck, shoulder, knee, or elbow), fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, labor pain, and cancer-related pain. How acupuncture relieves pain is not entirely clear-cut, but there are many theories based on scientific principles.

Hypnosis is a focused state of concentration. Self-hypnosis (in which you repeat a positive statement over and over) or guided imagery (a technique to create relaxing images in your mind) may be simple but effective ways to reduce pain for many people. Hypnosis is being studied for pain relief following surgery and during labor, as well as for pain from cancer (even in children), irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches (both tension and migraine), arthritis, and other conditions.

Both acupuncture and hypnosis are often included in pain management centers or clinics across the United States. Other non-pharmacologic methods that are used at such centers include physical therapy, biofeedback, massage, and relaxation training.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

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