Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a frustrating and seldom understood illness. It is a collection of confusing and often contradictory symptoms which come and go and vary in intensity. It's chief characteristic is widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is also characterized by stiffness, fatigue and non restorative sleep. While it is not life threatening, it is life changing. It can be as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis. 25% of all FMS sufferers become disabled and 36% of all social security disability payments currently go for Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic illness with a hefty price tag. It accounts for 10% of all visits to physicians. Yet, there are no effective conventional medical treatments for this chronic illness.
FMS is particularly frustrating because the sufferer appears healthy and normal on the outside but feels miserable on the inside. Eight times more women are affected than men. It strikes all races, all ages. In short it makes no difference who you are or what you are. It is often found in the company of other related illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spastic bladder (urinary urge incontinence), chronic fatigue, headaches, migraines, allergies, myofascial pain syndrome, mitral valve prolapse and more.
Traditional treatments aim
at improving the quality of sleep and reducing pain using a cocktail of
medications. Unfortunately, the side effects of the medications can be
as debilitating as the illness. Recent research confirms that a
multi-disciplinary approach which includes cognitive behavioral
therapies, such as Hypnosis, provides the greatest relief from symptoms
and the best prognosis for a return to more normal levels of
functioning. This approach includes improving the quality of sleep,
proper nutrition, physical conditioning and deep relaxation combined
with positive mental imagery (techniques used in Hypnotherapy). By
combining therapies, the patient can frequently return to a healthier
state and a more active lifestyle while lessening or, in some
the need for medications, especially pain medications. The most common negative side effect
of the pain medications used is it puts your sex life on hold. There
are no negative side effects to Hypnotherapy. You get your life back.
In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, 40 refractory
Fibromyalgia patients (FMS patients who had failed to relieve their
symptoms with traditional medical treatments) were randomly assigned to
treatment with either Hypnotherapy or physical therapy. The patients in
the Hypnotherapy group showed significantly better outcomes with
respect to pain reduction, fatigue on awakening,
sleep patterns and global assessments. In addition, those patients who
received Hypnotherapy showed a significant improvement in their overall
levels of discomfort and were able to reduce their levels of pain
The authors concluded that Hypnotherapy was effective in relieving the
symptoms of Fibromyalgia.
Here are the big differences:
Think of Fibromyalgia as a house with a roof leak. When it rains, water
comes inside. The treatments other
than Hypnotherapy are simply mops and buckets. They treat the
end result or if you would the physical symptoms. Hypnotherapy is not a
mop or a bucket, it is more like new shingles and nails. Hypnotherapy
reduces or stops the leak. Then the mop and buckets simply clean up
what has already leaked in. That's why insurance companies are starting
to pay for Hypnotherapy. The other methods are just a short term and
require more frequent pay outs. With
Hypnotherapy you can expect to come back for 1 session every 4 to 6
for a recharge. Fibromyalgia and stress have a few similarities. When
are stressed out, you can notice that your neck and shoulders feel
This is a real physical symptom of stress. What is happening in your
is having a effect on your body. The effects of Fibromyalgia are the
Because Fibromyalgia starts in the brain the same as stress, real
physical symptoms occur. That is why a combination of therapies is
showing the best results. After a while you can put the mops and
Understanding the Hypnotherapy and
is so effective: Fibromyalgia is "Disordered sensory processing."
Like a bad computer program or a meter or
gage that is out of calibration. In Hypnosis suggestions can
produce the same confusion. like when you see people walking on
hot coals. They don't feel the heat or burning, but they do feel
something. So it stands to reason if you can confuse a persons senses
with Hypnosis, you can un-confuse the senses of someone with
Fibromyalgia the same way. That is the first step of the Hypnotherapy.
The second step involves reprogramming the malfunctioning senses.
First: Fibromyalgia is a problem in the brain that causes a person to feel pain without medical reason. Disordered sensory processing.
Second: Hypnosis works in the brain.
Third: If the problem is in the brain, you need to treat the brain. What is happening in the body are the physical symptoms manifested from the brain. The same way a persons muscles in the neck may tense during times of stress. It is a secondary symptom. Stress is in the brain and not the body.
Fourth: Hypnosis can cause a person to feel or not feel things. Hypnosis can cause any sensation to be different than what is to be expected. In short Hypnosis can cause Disordered sensory processing. Examples of this are people walking on hot coals and not feel burning, or how a Stage Hypnotist can cause hallucinations of all senses including visual and kinesthetic.
Fifth: If Hypnosis can cause Disordered sensory processing, then you can accept and understand that Hypnosis can cause Ordered sensory processing.
Sixth: Hypnosis can produce endorphins with suggestions. (pleasure hormone)
Seventh: Endorphins can be up to 20 time stronger than morphine.
Eighth: There are no negative physical side effects to pain management with Hypnotherapy.
Ninth: The ability to control the pain is given directly to the person in Hypnotherapy. They can choose how much pain control to use or not use.
Tenth: Hypnosis can retrain or reprogram the mind to ignore or interpret the symptoms of Fibromyalgia differently. An example would be feel warmth and not pain. The subconscious mind will select what to feel in place of pain.
Eleventh: Only periodic reinforcement of hypnotic suggestions is needed after the therapy. Much like a booster shot. This eliminates or greatly reduces the need of secondary therapies.
Here is another way to think about Fibromyalgia and why the pain does not stay away with conventional therapy. Your driving to work on the normal road you take every day. Suddenly you hit a pothole in the road. You get very upset and hope that you did not do any damage to your car. This information passes into your short term memory. After a few minutes you have forgotten all about the pothole and continue your drive to work.
The next day your driving to work and just a few feet before the pothole you think about it and attempt to turn to miss it. But you are too late and hit it again. At this point your mind has now started to learn about the pothole on a subconscious level. You continue your drive to work as normal and forget all about the pothole by the time you get there.
On the third day your driving to work and just a few moments earlier than before your subconscious mind reminds you of the pothole, and you turn in time to miss it. All the visual cues around that pothole have now started to become associated with the pothole. Perhaps a tree or a mail box or even a street sign are now part of the reminder that there is a pothole here.
On the fourth day as you approach the pothole all the visual cues trigger the memory about the pothole even sooner and you have even more time to react. By about the fifth day you are thinking about the pothole even before you get within sight of it. This continues until you are thinking about that pothole when you are walking to your car. At that point your car has also become part of the subconscious trigger that makes you think about the pothole. Even when you are not driving to work you may now be very much alert for potholes all over. That pothole has now become part of your trip. To your mind it is no different than anything else in your trip, you have simply come to expect it. This is called a programmed response.
When you hear or see something you have a reaction. In this case the trip to work makes you think about the pothole and you expect it to be there. What ever caused the pothole in the first place has not even come into the picture. It could have been frost or any number of things. But this does not matter the damage has been done.
Now one day you head to work and notice that the pothole has been fixed. Next your mind sets to erasing the triggers that make you think about the pothole. And after one or two days you have completely forgotten about the pothole. For a person with Fibromyalgia, the process of erasing does not occur. In their mind the pothole is still there. That Fibromyalgia pothole is still there. This is called Disordered Sensory Processing. So your brain is saying there is pain, and because of that your muscles could spasm causing more pain. This in turn causes more stress and anxiety that reinforces the minds belief that the pain is there and it is real.
This in itself becomes a programmed response that continues to reinforce the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. The symptoms of Fibromyalgia almost always start as something else, and just slowly progress over time to become Fibromyalgia. For the people who suffer their mind expect the pain to be there, and because of that it is. The brain is very powerful. If you think of your favorite food, chances are your mouth would water. In fact you may even taste it. At that moment your brain has sent a command to your body to start your mouth to water.
For the people with Fibromyalgia, their brain sends a signal that there is pain, and the body reacts by causing muscles to tighten or spasm. This in turn can cause other problems like pulling parts of your back out of location. This in itself is painful and causes even more pain and may require realignment with a Chiropractic adjustment.
Even when pain medications are used the brain of the person with Fibromyalgia is still expecting the pain and fights the pain medication. Because of that the pain remains unless the dosage is so high that it effects the brains ability to process the suggestion of pain. But long before that the pain medications have taken away your personality, your love life, and left you looking and acting somewhat like a zombie. The pain medications, or any other therapy don't work on correcting the Disordered Sensory Processing. As soon as the pain medications wear off, or you develop a resistance to them the pain returns. This also reinforces the suggestion of pain. Hypnotherapy will patch the pothole, and then reprogram the mind to let it know that the pothole is gone.
In a recent
a Doctor who attended a meeting at the University of Connecticut in
2004 told me the following. "We now believe that there is a enzyme that
lacking in the brains of people who suffer from Fibromyalgia."
This supports one opinion why Hypnotherapy works so well with
Fibromyalgia. Every thought we have during the day or night causes
neurochemical changes in our brain. Hypnosis simply magnifies the
changes. Because of that, the specific hypnotic suggestions given in
this therapy may cause the brain to start to produce the lacking
enzyme. From the last information I have heard that studies were not
able to reproduce the enzyme theory finding. However there
are a few other theories as to the Cause of Fibromyalgia. Another theory is DNA fragmentation. But when it
comes right down to it, the person suffering could care less how the
pain goes away,
just as long as it goes away. Science has not yet figured out how to
our brain what the problem is that causes
Disordered Sensory Processing, But Hypnotherapy can work with
the brain to make the symptoms go away without the brain needing to
give up it's secrets. Much like you don't need to know how something
works to use it. You don't need to know how your body processes food
you eat, You just know it does.
Contributor: Jean Holroyd, UCLA