Recently, I had several major surgeries on my knees and ankle that required almost 2 months in bed doing rehabilitation. During this time, I did significant amounts of mind-body hypnosis to help with the healing processes.
Mind–body healing is a philosophy and set of health practices that use the mind for improving emotional and physical health. These practices can include meditation, relaxation training, acupuncture, guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, yoga, art/music therapy, prayer, Taichi, and psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
There is significant scientific evidence on effectiveness of mind-body therapies from clinical trials research. Mind-body therapies have been found to be effective in helping people deal with preoperative anxiety, chronic pain syndromes, symptoms associated with chemotherapy, some types of chronic mental illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorders and even addictions. There is also scientific evidence that it reduces recovery time from surgical procedures.
Mind–body therapies often focus on balancing the autonomic nervous system (ANS) by activating the parasympathetic branch of the ANS to reduce the physiological response to stress. This reduction of stress on the mind and body may help control or even reverse certain underlying disease processes. It is also believed that mind–body therapies can help with regulating many parts of the immune system.
Hypnotherapy is a type of mind-body practice has been shown to be an especially effective tool for dealing with health issues. Clinical studies have shown that hypnotherapy can help reduce fear, anxiety, and discomfort associated with many medical and dental procedures. For example, studies show that dental patients who underwent hypnosis had a significantly higher threshold for pain than those who were not hypnotized. Hypnosis may also improve recovery time and reduce anxiety and pain following surgery. Clinical trials on burn patients suggest that hypnosis decreases pain (enough to replace pain medication) and speeds healing. Other studies show hypnosis results in decreased use of pain medication, higher pain thresholds, shorter hospital stays, less surgical intervention, fewer complications, and a more satisfying birth experience among women in labor. Generally, clinical studies show that hypnosis may reduce the need for medication, improve mental and physical health before an operation, and reduce the time it takes to recover.
Interest in hypnosis for pain management has increased with recent evidence that hypnosis can reduce pain (and costs) associated with medical procedures. Hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain generally, but not always, involves a hypnotic induction with suggestions for relaxation and comfort. Posthypnotic suggestions may be given for reduced pain that can continue beyond the session or that the patient can quickly and easily create a state of comfort using an “anchor” (i.e., taking a deep breath and exhaling as eye lids close). The focus of hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain also often involves teaching the patient self-hypnosis or providing tape recordings of hypnosis sessions that can be used to reduce pain on a daily basis outside the sessions. Some patients experience an immediate reduction in pain severity following hypnosis treatment, whereas others can reduce pain with repeated practice of self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy sessions.
Other problems or conditions that may respond to hypnotherapy include:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Labor and delivery
Skin disorders, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Post-traumatic stress disorder
During my healing, I used hypnosis to focus on:
1. Pre-Surgery: Relaxing the body and mind, prepping the body for healing, and dealing with pre-surgery anxiety.
2. Post Surgery: Visualization exercises of the legs healing, sending blood flow to the legs, managing pain and discomfort while reducing the need for painkillers.
3. Rehabilitation: Visualization of doing exercise, returning to hiking, and strengthening the muscles. I also visualized the future when I was fully healed and returning to my pre-accident life.
If you would like more information on hypnosis for mind-body health, check out my website.
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