Pain is one of the hidden symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Many people do not realize it is a symptom present in up to 2/3rds of those diagnosed with MS. Thus finding tools to manage pain in multiple sclerosis is important.
Types of MS Pain
Pain in MS can be categorized into two groups:
- Nerve pain, known as neuropathic pain, is attributed to the disruption of central nervous system myelin. This type of pain can be continuous and steady, such as burning in the foot or tingling. Or it can be spontaneous and intermittent, such as spasms or trigeminal neuralgia.
- Musculoskeletal pain, known as nociceptive pain, is attributed to the effects of disability. This type of pain is caused by changes in gait, posture, muscle weakness etc.
Fortunately it is possible to manage both types of pain of MS with hypnosis techniques.
Hypnosis for MS Pain
There are many techniques that can be used to relieve pain. Here are the groups of hypnotic techniques used in pain management that can help relieve the pain of MS:
As you can see, hypnosis can be used to create anesthesia (not feeling the pain), to alter the sensation or move it to another area that is less painful, and to distract the attention of the mind to something more pleasant than focusing on the pain signal. In the presentation, Eva M Clark, gives us an example of going to the dentist and chosing to imagine herself first at the beach as a way to distract her attention from the pain and then altering the sensation of pain to resemble getting her hair washed at the hair dressers. Both techniques are good examples of using self-hypnosis to relieve pain.
Hypnotherapy to Address the Cause of MS Pain
An important hypnotherapy technique that can be used with MS, not in the first sessions but once the client has become accustomed to using hypnosis, is “exploring the cause and meaning of multiple sclerosis“. Why is this important? Because only focusing on reducing symptoms such as foot pain will not heal the disease. And if those symptoms are there for a purpose and the symptom is removed without working through its cause, that symptom will return or another one might takes its place. There is nothing happening in the body that does not have a cause. Hypnotherapy can help discover that cause.
What is Pain
To understand what is pain, let’s use the example of stubbing our toe. When we stub our toe, the nerves of the toe area immediatly send a signal to communicate to the body about the incident so that the body attends to it. It sends this message for attention through energy impulses. That impulse, is sent from the toe to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord up to the brain. Once the brain receives the energy impulse, it needs to translate it. Un-disrupted, the brain will translate the impulse as “ouch, the toe of the right foot has been stubbed and needs attention“.
Altering MS Pain
If, however, the brain receives, at the same time, other energy impulses or stimulous, the pain in the toe is literally drowned out or dulled. That is one of the techniques used in hypnosis. It invites you to practice focusing on other more pleasant stimulous to dull or drown out the signal of pain.
A Baclofen pump uses a similar technique to distract the brain. It also sends energy impulses into the spinal cord to interupt and distort the signals of pain. So, in the example of MS foot pain, when the nerves in the foot send a signal of pain, that signal travels up the spinal cord and joins the signal being sent up by the Baclofen pumpl. The brain then receives a distorted signal and doesn’t translate it as pain. Baclofen pumps, just as hypnosis, focuses on altering the signal.
MS Pain Relief with Hypnosis
Hypnosis helps to relieve pain by teaching the client how to alter, distorting and distract the pain signals.
You can read more on hypnosis for MS pain in our next presentation here.
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