The use of hypnosis for pain relief has been explored in many research studies.
One area of study is the use of hypnosis for pain control during child birth. A study in 2002 (Bobart and Brown) found that over 60% of the women who received hypnotic training required no anaesthetic medication compared to only 2.7 % of the women who had no hypnosis training. Also, only 5.5% of the hypnosis group required pain medication whereas 75% of the non hypnosis women needed anlagesia.
An analysis of over 14 hypnobirthing studies, that included over 1400 women, concluded that hypnosis reduced the need for pain relief medication in labour whilst also increasing the number of spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Women taught hypnosis had decreased requirements for analgesia including epidurals and they felt more satisfied with their pain management.
A study published in 2004 (Jeffrey B. Feldman) looked at hypnosis and pain more generally. The conclusions suggest hypnosis should be considered as a powerful tool for many aspects of pain management:
"Hypnosis therefore appears to be a potentially more potent clinical tool for pain management than approaches that do not use it (i.e. relaxation, cognitive-behavioral)."
A review in 2007 (Elkins etal) looked at a number of studies focusing on hypnosis for chronic pain. The research included conditions such as low back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia. After considering the studies they concluded that hypnosis had a significant role to play in the management of chronic pain:
"The current review indicates that hypnotic interventions for chronic pain results in significant reductions in perceived pain that, in some cases, may be maintained for several months. Further, in a few studies, hypnotic treatment was found to be more effective, on average, than some other treatments, such as physical therapy or education, for some types of chronic pain."
The American Psychological Association also reviewed a number of research studies looking at the use of hypnosis for pain management, also called hypno-analgesia. They concluded:
"A meta-analysis (a study of studies) in 2000 of 18 published studies by psychologists Guy Montgomery, PhD, Katherine DuHamel, PhD, and William Redd, PhD, showed that 75% of clinical and experimental participants with different types of pain obtained substantial pain relief from hypnotic techniques. Thus, hypnosis is likely to be effective for most people suffering from diverse forms of pain, with the possible exception of a minority of patients who are resistant to hypnotic interventions"
In 2009 (Donald Roberston) the evidence for the use of hypnosis for pain relief was explored. They concluded that there were effective empirically supported evidence for the use of hypnosis for pain including pain in surgery and cancer treatment.
There are very many more studies exploring the use of hypnotherapy for chronic and short term pain. Pain is both physical and psychological and consequently, as research supports, can be influenced by therapies such as hypnotherapy. The video below shows hypnosis for pain management in action. The video shows a women having throat surgery without anaesthetic to allow her to sing to preserve her vocal chords.