Hypnosis has been in the armoury of those treating phantom limb pain for many years. However, it is controversial due to the inevitable (but wholly wrong) suggestion that the pain is all in the sufferer’s mind.
I have a client who has, very sadly, developed therapy resistant CRPS in his lower limb. He has undergone the full spectrum of treatment, most recently the fitting of a spinal cord simulator, which has had little effect upon his levels of pain. He is now actively seeking a below knee amputation and in that context was referred to a psychologist to discuss hypnosis for possible phantom limb pain.
That got me thinking. Whilst some of my clients have undergone hypnotherapy as part of more general coping strategies for CRPS, I wondered whether there was any published research on its wider efficacy as a treatment tool.
First, let me make one thing entirely clear – CRPS is a physical condition with objective signs and, in the same way as phantom limb pain, is absolutely not “all in the mind”. However, despite its physical basis, CRPS also has a psychological or behavioural component.
Accordingly, in the same way as basic tools such as mirror boxes can, in a limited number of cases, produce seemingly amazing results, can hypnosis help CRPS sufferers as part of an overall multi-disciplinary treatment approach?
I have found and read a very interesting article on the work of Dr David Flemming MD of Massachusetts. If you have not done so, I would urge you to read it. Accepting that the technique is not going to be effective for all sufferers (indeed his data suggests that it will be wholly ineffective for a significant proportion), his results seem nevertheless quietly encouraging.
As part of our policy of sharing with our clients and more widely, information regarding developments in treatment for chronic pain, I would be very interested to hear the experiences of anybody who has undergone hypnosis as part of their treatment programme for CRPS.
This is a link to a Hypnotherapy Directory. However, I would urge anybody considering hypnosis to first discuss the matter with their pain specialist.