Fibromyalgia affects approximately 2-8% of the population worldwide. The specific causes of fibromyalgia are unknown to-date, but it is believed to be a combination of both environmental and genetic factors that can make anyone more susceptible. Recent scientific evidence provides promising results that support the use of hypnotherapy for the management of fibromyalgia symptoms. This offers an alternative drug-free, safe and effective way to manage this challenging condition.
Few people are currently aware of the many potential benefits of hypnotherapy. Stage hypnosis for entertainment purposes have created a very different picture of what actual hypnosis can do for individuals from a therapeutic perspective. The human mind is very powerful and often misunderstood by many, included leading scientists in the field. Many health challenges people face today currently being treated with medication can also alternatively be effectively managed with hypnotherapy. Physicians are often concerned about the addictive properties of certain narcotics and are hesitant to prescribe them to ensure that their patients don’t develop any dependance. This article aims to inform you about fibromyalgia and how current scientific evidence strongly supports the management of key symptoms to bring afflicted individuals much needed relief.
What is Fibromyalgia? How does it affect you?
It is thought that people affected by fibromyalgia have overactive pain processing pathways. Simply put, the “volume” of their neurons are set to high rendering them “over-sensitive” and hyper-excitable making individuals afflicted, experience pain when they otherwise should not be feeling or experiencing pain.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia often include widespread pain affecting the soft tissue and muscular system. The pain is often chronic and can include sleep disturbances, fatigue, and increased sensitivity to tactile pressure or touch also known as allodynia. People afflicted also report muscle spasms, muscle weakness in the limbs, tingling of the skin, nerve pain, functional bowel disturbances, and muscle twitching and palpitations. Managing symptoms of fibromyalgia can be challenging. There are a few FDA & Health Canada approved medications used to help manage symptoms but they tend to cause many adverse side effects and one medication only shows substantial benefit in about 9% of people who use it. Antidepressants and opioids are another option, but here is a risk of developing a dependance. Many physicians will be reluctant to prescribe opioids unless symptoms are extremely severe.
Proper diet and regular exercise have been shown to be effective in some people affected. There is strong evidence that any form of cardiovascular exercise is effective for some individuals with fibromyalgia. Hypnotherapy is also a very good alternative and there has been mounting evidence published in the scientific literature to support these claims.
How Can Hypnotherapy Help With Reducing Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
A recent scientific publication out of Germany published in the European Journal of Pain (2017) reported some very promising and interesting results. Zech N, et al. reported a systematic review of multiple, previously published, clinical trials (meta-analysis) investigating a total of 482 patients. The number of patients studied is really powerful from a statistical point of view and will usually make any significant outcome from the study more believable.
Specific outcome criteria set by the authors included an equal to or greater than 50% improvement of pain relief associated with fibromyalgia as well as a greater than 20% improvement of overall quality of life. Quality of life criteria included improvement of associated psychological distress and overall improvement of disability.
In both criteria set by the authors, they found that there was a clinically relevant benefit in both groups. Furthermore, they concluded that the use of hypnosis and guided imagery while in hypnosis was effective at reducing key symptoms of fibromyalgia in the patients enrolled in the study. Not only was it effective at helping reduce the symptoms, the treatment was very well tolerated by all the participants (not many significant side effects) . To sum it all up, this is a fantastic, safe, drug-free alternative to help manage symptoms associated from fibromyalgia.
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Written By: Sebastian Di Cesare PhD, CHt - a research scientist & practicing Clinical Hypnotherapist based in Vancouver, Canada.