Using Hypnosis to Treat Chronic Pain

By:  Traci Patterson, Founder and Executive Director, Advanced Pathways

The mind is such a powerful tool when it comes to managing pain, helping chronic pain patients gain functional levels and regain their lives.  While many have relied upon opioids and other traditional therapies in the past more physicians, universities and patients are turning to alternative therapies such as hypnotherapy.

Traci Patterson, Founder and Executive Director of Advanced Pathways, lived with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) for seven years prior to getting into long-term remission with alternative treatments that included hypnotherapy.  Traci has been pain free for over six years now and is leading the charge to change the stigma of chronic pain and provide patients with viable treatment options.

Advanced Pathways is an office offering alternative therapies for pain, including hypnosis.  The protocol that has provided the greatest relief for chronic pain (CRPS, RSD, fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, AMPS, etc.) patients is HCT (Hypnosis Combined Therapy).  This is a combination of hypnotherapy, cold laser, neuroplasticity training, biofeedback, neurofeedback, pulsed electro-magnetic frequency (PEMF), and much more.

There are many misconceptions about hypnosis.  Therefore, many chronic pain patients shy away from it.  Hypnosis is merely a deeply relaxed state where a therapist can give suggestions for changes in emotion, behavior or perception.  It is also a great medium to help patients get out of fight/flight.

When you experience chronic pain there’s not one place in the brain that is causing a response or pain.  There are multiple centers of the brain involved, including the limbic system.  So, there’s part of the brain that tells you where it hurts, another part that tells you how it hurts, and a different part that says how bothered you are by it.  Accessing these areas can provide tremendous transformation in resetting the pain loop.

For the majority of chronic pain patients that are utilizing HCT the outcomes are life changing.

“100% helpful!  I cannot tell you how thankful I am that my daughter was given her life back.  CRPS is real and debilitating, and HCT is nothing short of a miracle.” Lisa S.

Once finished with the HCT Intensive patients are given a ninety-day home program that allows them to use the tools gained to sustain function levels and/or remission.

“After 4 years of suffering, in 5 days I was able to get my life back. Absolutely speechless! Cannot say enough positive things about this treatment. It’s the only thing that works!” Sierra K.

Having the ability to work with chronic pain patients that have all but given up hope and helping them regain function and regain their lives is simply amazing.  No one should have to live with the stigma of chronic pain and feeling like all hope has been taken from them.  The tide needs to turn so that all chronic pain patients have access to viable treatment options such as HCT.

For more information on HCT for chronic pain you can contact Advanced Pathways.

Advanced Pathways in Top Five of Healthcare’s Most Innovative Companies



5 Finalists Selected for 19th Innovations in Healthcare-TM ABBY Award;
Winner to Be Chosen on December 5, 2018, in Long Beach, CA
November 14, 2018: Five of healthcare’s most innovative companies have been selected as Finalists to present their approaches, medical devices, health IT, digital health, and diagnostic solutions at ABL Organization’s 19th Innovations in HealthcareTM ABBY Awards Event, to be held on December 5, 2018, in Long Beach, California. The event will be hosted by the Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Organization, whose first awards event was held in 1999, and since then has recognized over 60 innovative organizations whose approaches and technologies are making dramatic inroads in the quest to improve the quality of care and health outcomes – while reducing its cost. And this year, more than any other before, many of these innovations are blending technology with the human touch provided by providers, caregivers, and even family members and friends.
At the December 5th event, following live presentations made by the leaders of each Finalist company, each audience member will cast their secret ballot to determine one Awardee, who will take home the coveted ABBY Award.
The 19th Innovations in Healthcare (TM) ABBY Award Finalists, in alphabetical order, are:


Traci Patterson, Founder and Executive Director

ABL _ Traci Patterson

Advanced Pathways’ Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT) provides solutions for chronic pain patients (CRPS, Fibromyalgia, SFN, Migraines, etc.) through a personalized, evidence-based, non-invasive, drug-free treatment option that allows patients to regain their lives. HCT gets the patient out of ‘fight/flight’, resetting the pain loop, balancing the autonomic nervous system, reducing/controlling stress and anxiety, increasing restorative sleep, and helping with PTSD. Their 5-day protocol is not only changing patients’ lives, but is also dramatically decreasing the overall burden on the U.S. healthcare system.

Rick Anderson, President & COO

ABL - Rick Anderson
Through predictive analytics, Catasys identifies, engages, and treats behavioral care-avoidant people who are suffering from untreated behavioral health conditions that are exacerbating chronic medical disease. By applying advanced tools and proprietary insights, during its 52-week program, Catasys care coaches motivate behavior change, resulting in better health, improved resiliency, and reduced costs: total claims paid, a reduction in ED and inpatient utilization, as well as a reduction in professional costs, such as doctor fees. OnTrak’s retention is 80%: four times the average behavioral health treatment retention.

Joshua Freedman, MD, CEO & Founder

ABL - Joshua Freedman
Among the millions of Americans identified as depressed by their primary care doctor, almost two-thirds don’t get treatment. As a psychiatrist, Dr. Freedman recognized the challenges his patients faced, particularly those suffering from anxiety and depression, to travel across town to meet with their doctor. healthPiper: a mobile medication-based treatment program for patients with depression and anxiety, that uses a cost-effective “concierge style” that harnesses mobile technology, coupling it with innovative approaches for delivering meds and staying patient-connected, all at less than half the typical cost of care.

Richard Carreon, Managing Director & CEO

ABL - Richard Carreon
The post-surgical complication of lymphedema (in which fluid builds up in the extremities due to damage of the lymph system) is so significant that it is taken for granted. SOZO® provides a critical tool for the early detection, monitoring, and management of conditions like lymphedema. When used immediately upon cancer diagnosis, SOZO enables the monitoring of subtle changes in breast cancer patients – detecting lymphedema as much as 4-10 months earlier than other methods, allowing for early intervention and prevention of disease progression, decreasing the development of persistent, possibly irreversible, lymphedema in breast cancer patients by as much as 95%.

Aaron Clark, Co-Founder & CEO

ABL - Aaron Clark
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) affects 20% of the adult US population. For under $300, the MedCline Reflux Relief System is more effective than medications at reducing nighttime GERD symptoms, more effective than surgery at reducing Silent Reflux symptoms, and it provides physicians and patients with a powerful and effective alternative to Proton Pump Inhibitor medications and surgery. It has been clinically studied with patients with typical reflux symptoms – as well as laryngopharyngeal reflux, pregnancy reflux, post-esophagectomy, and lung transplant patients with reflux – with consistent positive results.

ALSO AT THE EVENT, the keynote presentation will be made by Robert Maloney, MD, Director of Maloney Vision Institute, and Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Maloney has worked at the forefront of innovative vision-correction surgery for 20 years – personally performing 60,000+ vision correction procedures – including on Kim Kardashian. He’s also a brilliant medical edu-tainer and will share with attendees the inspiring backstory of one of the greatest Innovations in Healthcare of all time, and how it’s played out in history and art, as well as in today’s routine medical practice.

Information on the 20th Innovations in HealthcareTM ABBY Award event to be held on December 12, 2018, in San Francisco, CA can be found here. In preparation for this year’s Event, ABL’s Finalist Selection Committee – a group of Healthcare Executives with deep domain knowledge in the areas represented by this year’s Semi-Finalists – spent a recent morning presenting and discussing some 30 ABBY Award-nominated Semi-Finalists to the Group. Following discussions about each nominated organization, the Committee voted by secret ballot to select the Finalists. Further information about the Innovations in HealthcareTM ABBY Awards events is available by emailing

Past ABBY Award Winners: Previous ABBY Award Winners include numerous companies that have made breakthroughs and transformative advances in medical devices, diagnostics, therapeutics, information technology, and electronic solutions, as well as organizations that have applied innovative systems and technology to providing care and coverage, decreasing the numbers of uninsured, and engaging healthcare consumers more actively in their care and health status – all with a view to reducing the cost of quality care.

Lyme Disease and Hypnotherapy

By:  Traci Patterson, Founder and Director – Advanced Pathways


In August of 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that cases of Lyme disease are 10 times more prevalent than previously believed, with as many as 300,000 new cases reported each year in the United States.  While it remains difficult to diagnose, acknowledgment of the scope of the illness brings hope to many current sufferers that help is forthcoming.

First recognized as a specific disease in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut, this tick-borne malady remains as elusive in diagnosis as it does in treatment.  Not all infected individuals have, or notice the bite of a tiny tick or the characteristic “bull’s eye” rash that is common to Lyme.  Symptoms vary by individual, and may be mistaken for influenza or other illnesses.  Onset of definitive symptoms may be delayed for years, and masked by various other bacterial infections that can accompany the spirochete borellia burgdorferi, the species that is the specific agent of Lyme.

Hypnotherapists are in an ideal position to help clients with symptoms of Lyme disease, especially those who are not fortunate to have been diagnosed early, when antibiotic treatment is most effective.   We are trained to listen, observe, and work with our clients to develop an appropriate course of therapy to alleviate symptoms and improve levels of comfort.  Most individuals living with Lyme are frustrated after years of undiagnosed ill-health and lists of healthcare providers who offer no answers.  Most of these individuals have been treated (ineffectively) for anxiety, depression, arthritis, migraines, various neurological disorders and joint pain for years before they were diagnosed accurately and appropriate treatment initiated.

Feeling good is the part of life that eludes those with chronic Lyme symptoms.  In some cases, clients have been so ill for so long, they are unable to even imagine what it’s like to be well.   Hypnotherapy can allow individuals to experience positive sensations that will stay with them, providing a reference for health and well-being.

With Lyme, hypnotherapy focuses on addressing symptoms.  In addition to treating symptoms of infections and co-infections, many of which (localized pain, anxiety, insomnia) are similar to Lyme, it’s important that hypnotherapists be knowledgeable of these infections and their potential for influence in the healing process as well.  Treating the personal as a whole and individualizing treatments to their specific needs will only encourage overall harmony in health.

I regularly see several clients with Lyme disease, who range in health from asymptomatic to bed-ridden.  The youngest began seeing me when he was just 12 years old, the eldest is in her 80’s.  They come to me in various stages of discomfort, frustration, anxiety and fear.  Hypnotherapy can help with chronic pain, stress, anxiety, depression, regulating the autonomic system, increasing the immune system, increasing restorative sleep, well-being, etc.  While their specific symptoms vary greatly, what they now have in common is their appreciation of the benefits of hypnotherapy in improving their quality of life. 


Cold Laser for Relief of Chronic Pain


Cold laser is also known as, LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy) or Photobiomodulation Therapy which is the best technical term, is the application of red and near infra-red light over injuries or lesions to improve wound and soft tissue healing, reduce inflammation and give relief for both acute and chronic pain. First developed in 1967, it is now commonly referred to as LLLT.

LLLT is used to: increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair; resolve inflammation and relieve pain (analgesia).

• Acute or chronic tendinopathies
• Sprains and strains
• Neck and back pain
• Osteoarthritis
• Post-operative pain
• Chronic pain
• Neuropathic Pain
• Tissue healing

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) improves tissue repair, reduces pain and inflammation wherever the beam is applied. Treatments take only a few minutes and can be applied two or more times a week.

Significant reduction of inflammation equal to or better than NSAIDs within 2 hours, analgesic effects that last for 48 hours, healing time of chronic tendinopathies reduced by 70%.

LLLT devices are typically delivering 10mW – 500mW (0.01 -> 0.01 Watts). The power density typically ranges from 0.005W/Cm² -> 5 W/Cm².

LLLT is popularly used for soft tissue injuries, joint conditions, neuropathic pain, non-healing leg and pressure ulcers.

When cells are stressed, nitric oxide (NO) inhibits oxygen consumption by mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase. This reduces production of ATP and causes oxidative stress leading to increased inflammation and reduced production of ATP. LLLT displaces NO from cytochrome c oxidase thereby reducing inflammation and restoring ATP production, helping tissues heal more quickly.

The effects of LLLT are photochemical (like photosynthesis in plants). When the correct intensity and treatment times are used, red and near infrared light reduces oxidative stress and increases ATP. This improves cell metabolism and reduce inflammation. These effects can be enhanced with pulses however when analgesia is required there is a second mechanism which works best when a strong continuous beam is applied.

NSAIDs slow healing and often have side effects whereas LLLT actually improves healing, as well as reducing inflammation and pain.

Over 400 LLLT clinical trials (RCTs) and over 4,000 laboratory studies have been published. It has proven more effective and safer than pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories across a range of musculoskeletal conditions. LLLT also improves healing and reduces muscle fatigue, muscle damage and DOMS.

Contact us today for additional information on LLLT and how it can help you heal and regain your life.

(714) 717-6633  | |

Spinal Cord Stimulators: CRPS and Adverse Effects

Author:  Traci Patterson – Founder and Director, Advanced Pathways


There is a big question as to whether a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) is truly the great answer to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) pain that a lot of pain management doctors state that it is.

There is literature and feedback on both sides of this debate. Below is information on what a Spinal Cord Stimulator is supposed to do to help alleviate or decrease the pain for those that have CRPS.

Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you is that there are also articles out there from Neurological Publications that the Neurosurgeons utilize that have shown studies where in some cases SCS have been known to cause the body to build up a layer of scar tissue around the leads or paddle or leads of the SCS. This same scar tissue then continues to grow around the Dura that protects the spinal cord, and if it is not caught it has been known to cause paralysis by putting pressure on the spinal cord. Yes, you read that correctly!

Unfortunately, I have never heard of any doctors or representatives from the SCS companies ever mentioning this to their patients prior to having a Spinal Cord Stimulator implanted. It is never mentioned with the possible risks.

What about the risk of CRPS moving into the back due to the surgery and placement of a SCS? Patients are not told that this can happen and has happened.

What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator?

When more conservative therapies have failed, the cost and risks of managing pain rise. Increasingly, many healthcare providers are employing a multi-modal approach to pain that includes spinal cord stimulation.

An implantable system delivers electrical pulses via a lead to nerves in the dorsal aspect of the spinal cord. Pain signals are inhibited before they reach the brain and replaced with a tingling sensation (paresthesia) that covers the specific areas where the pain was felt.

A spinal cord stimulation system consists of 2 implanted components:

· Neurostimulator – Rechargeable or non-rechargeable implanted power source that generates electrical pulses according to programmable neurostimulation parameters and features

· Lead – A set of thin wires with a protective coating and electrodes near the tip (percutaneous lead) or on a paddle (surgical lead). The electrodes transmit the electrical pulses to the stimulation site

Two external components to a spinal cord stimulation system allow the therapy to be customized for each patient:

· Clinician Programmer – Used to program the implanted neurostimulator

· Patient Programmer – Empowers patients by giving them a way to manage their pain relief – within preset physician parameters – to optimize outcomes

Other Information:

Prior to having the actual Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) implanted a patient will go through what they call a trial. This entails having an external SCS set up with normally 2 leads that are surgically implanted at the correct level on the spine / vertebrae to reduce your pain. The actual SCS itself is outside of your body and kept in a fanny pack that you have to wear, but it gives you an idea if this will work for you.

There have been some patients that have had a very successful trial where the SCS trial decreased their pain levels. Only to have the real SCS that was implanted fail.

There are several manufacturers with this device, most of the time the patient does not have a say in what manufacture is going to be utilized. The Pain Management doctor typically has their preference as to a specific vendor. I highly suggest that anyone that is to the point of considering a Spinal Cord Stimulator to please do your homework. Don’t feel like you have to move forward with this just because your doctor has told your to or has suggested it. There are other options out there to help decrease your pain, and once this has been done it is very difficult to un-do!

Articles and Published Information:

In April 2014, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of adverse events associated with spinal cord stimulators:  “When Spine Implants Cause Paralysis, Who Is to Blame?”

These events were submitted to the FDA or were obtained from medical malpractice law suits. “In many cases, the injuries occurred after patients’ spinal cords were punctured or compressed by the stimulator electrodes….The FDA’s database contains 58 unique reports of paralysis with report or event dates from 2013, compared with 48 in the prior year.” The spinal cord stimulators were made by various companies.

“Researchers at Duke University medical center recently found that nearly one in every 100 spinal stimulator patients experienced some degree of spinal cord or spinal nerve root damage, said Shivanand P. Lad, a Duke Neurosurgeon and the study’s lead researcher. The study, based on insurance claim records of 12,300 stimulator patients has been submitted for presentation at an upcoming medical meeting.”

“A 2011 study based on adverse event reports submitted by device makers found the rate of paralysis or motor weakness in patients implanted with a commonly used type of stimulator was considerably lower, at around 3.8 per 1000, with about 60% of patients eventually experiencing complete or partial recovery.”

Medtronic updated its product label in February to note “that scar tissue can form around device electrodes and cause nerve damage, including progressive quadriparesis, or gradual weakening of all four limbs.”

“Medtronic estimates that as many as 50,000 people in the U.S. are implanted with spinal stimulators each year from all device makers.”

“Stimulators cost between $20,000 and $60,000 each and have estimated global sales of $1.5 billion annually….”

The FDA “cautions that the agency’s database cannot be used to ascertain comprehensive rates of adverse events because the events are under reported [my emphasis] and often contain incomplete or incorrect information.”

The article describes a man with 40 years of back pain who had a spinal cord stimulator implanted at the University of Texas Southwestern Hospital, Dallas. He complained of numbness in his legs. A blood clot was removed on an urgent basis, but damage was irreversible. He was paralyzed from the waist down and left in a wheelchair.

SCS, can cause many more problems that paralysis. They can cause pain, tethering of the cord, scarring of the battery pack that can slide across the back, infection that may cause death, and many other complications. Electrodes may not always be able to be removed and remain permanently scarred into the cord. Deeply troubling is that an MRI can never be done again even if the patient has cancer or stroke —patients either aren’t being told about this or don’t remember being told about this. Where are the five year studies that show benefit? Even with no complications, how long do they continue to relieve pain? Electrodes move and/or they malfunction. There is little to no federal investment in medications that relieve pain, but these devices are garnering sales of $1.5 billion annually without showing lasting benefit. This is a very big source or income for pain specialists, but what is the gain for patients? How can we weight the pros and cons of this money generating device?

So many of the CRPS patients that I have seen failed the small handful of medications now available for chronic pain and were given only one choice by every major pain center: spinal cord stimulator. One choice. This is a very big business but where is the data to support the SCS for CRPS? What about all the negative outcomes, the patients that have their CRPS move into the surgical areas following the implant of a SCS or worse?

It is important for all CRPS and chronic pain patients to know their options and to be informed about risks vs rewards of all treatments. There are other options available beyond a SCS. These are non-invasive and drug-free options that are providing long-term relief for CRPS patients. Know your options.

For additional information or if you would like to speak with me please contact me at:

How to Handle Cancer Pain: Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis Pain Relief for Cancer

Cancer pain help through both hypnosis and self-hypnosis may be one of the greatest gifts you give yourself while undergoing treatment for cancer. The pain of cancer can be tremendous but the drugs and other treatments have their own side effects and mind numbing issues that aren’t always desirable.

Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis for Cancer?

Hypnosis and self-hypnosis offers you the ability to find relief from pain without the fog of pharmaceuticals. This small piece of normalcy in your life at this particular time is a blessing all its own. The question becomes: do the drugs prescribed to bring relief bother you enough to warrant the unknown that hypnosis represents to so many.

Managing Pain

Pain management is one of the trickiest issues to deal with among cancer patients. Some patients prefer to feel no pain at all. Others feel that as long as they are feeling some of the pain they know, without a doubt that they are still among the living. Either way cancer pain help that is delivered in a manner that allows the most quality of life possible is the best way by far to manage that pain.

Why Hypnosis?

One question that remains for many is why? Why would hypnosis work and why should it be trusted? Hypnosis has been around for a long time. It is only in recent years that people have begun to harness the true power of both hypnosis and self-hypnosis for pain management, and put it to work for all manner of self-improvement efforts.

Hypnosis for pain management has been proven to be effective for chronic pain and cancer pain through various studies at Stanford University, Yale, Harvard and in studies completed in London and Sweden.

What Does Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis Have to do With Cancer Pain Help?

Pain management may seem like a bit of a leap but when you think about, it’s a logical next step. Pain rarely gets more critical or nearly as prolonged as the pain you will experience when going through with cancer. There have been studies done showing that hypnosis can help reduce cancer pain and chronic pain. Hypnosis is a case of mind over matter. ‘There is no pain, until it gets to the brain.’ Utilizing areas of the brain through hypnosis to help reduce/control pain via suggestion, imagery, and bio-feedback. This may be a simplistic explanation but ultimately that is what all hypnosis is.

Relief that can be felt is a worthy pursuit for all who suffer from cancer pain. Please keep in mind that the American Medical Association endorsed hypnosis for pain management in 1958 and the National Institute for Health (NIH) has also endorsed hypnosis.

More than Mere Pain Management

Cancer pain help through hypnosis and self-hypnosis doesn’t limit itself to physical pain. There are few times in your life when it is more important to handle emotional pain as well. Whether it is mending fencing, rebuilding bridges, or burning a few bridges along the way, life is too short to waste precious moments on pain. Hypnosis can be used to help you realize the battles that are worth hanging on to and those that you should have let go a long time ago. It can also be used to give you the strength to really let go and move on.

Beyond Cancer Pain Relief

Sometimes it takes cancer to remind you of the things that really are most important. Don’t let the need for cancer pain help rob you of your opportunity to enjoy them. If you haven’t taken the time to see what hypnosis and/or self-hypnosis can mean for you now is a great time to do so. Begin with cancer pain help and work your way up to healing all areas of your life and giving yourself the strength you need to face the pain of cancer and all the other living you have ahead of you.

If you would like more information on hypnosis for cancer pain or additional information on hypnosis for pain management please contact Traci Patterson at Advanced Pathways Hypnosis.

HCT For The Relief and Control Of Chronic Pain

Author: Traci Patterson, CH, CI – Founder and Director, Advanced Pathways


You are not your pain. You can make that statement a reality by utilizing the powerful protocol of Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT).  HCT can harness your ability to retrain neural pathways and develop new patterns in the brain and body, to help you reclaim control.

HCT is a combination of clinical hypnosis/hypnotherapy, biofeedback, light/sound therapy, neuroplasticity training, working with the limbic system, cell memory, and more. This protocol has given patients, on an international basis, the ability to dramatically decrease pain levels (many do gain remission), increase restorative sleep, decrease and control stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and regain their lives.

Clinical trial evidence over the past 10 years, confirms that hypnotherapy treatments are effective for reducing daily pain intensity levels in people with chronic pain.

My own experience of living with chronic pain (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) means that I have a real understanding of the impact it has on all areas of life. Chronic pain doesn’t just impact one area. It hits patients in ways that were never expected. The isolation, stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming. The good news is this can change. You can have the ability to change the way you experience your body and your life – to take control again.

When pain persists, your role in managing it becomes really important. What you think, feel and do on a day-to-day basis, has an effect on your pain. In order to change your pain state it is necessary to change your thoughts and emotional responses.

HCT is a powerful tool that helps you take back control over your pain and your life by enabling you to change your thoughts and emotional responses to both your pain and to external factors. This will assist you to retrain neural pathways and calm down the over sensitized state of your central nervous system, helping you lay down new templates of response in the areas of the brain responsible for determining the pain experience.

With HCT you will be able to promote and experience the healthy effects of positive energy in your life, empowering you to get back in the driver’s seat of your life once again.

What exactly is chronic pain?
Pain is considered chronic when it occurs for most days of the week and persists for longer than three months. It includes persistent pain that no longer has an identifiable cause where the original injury has healed, as well as pain that has an identifiable cause such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, TMJ dysfunction, cancer, diabetic neuropathy, shingles, multiple sclerosis etc. It also includes persistent pain that has no identifiable cause at all.

It is now estimated that over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Push the numbers out on an international basis and chronic pain is becoming an epidemic. The cause and treatment of persistent pain is complex, added to which is the enormous impact chronic pain has on a person’s ability to function effectively in the wider areas of family, social and work life.

Chronic pain and illness is debilitating, isolating and extremely stressful. There is no single approach or ‘magic bullet’ solution to treating chronic pain. Rather, it’s a matter of being in charge of your health management and decisions, choosing the right combination of treatment strategies and health care professionals to help you improve your health outcomes and the quality of your life.

How do we know that hypnosis can actually make a difference for pain?
There is physical evidence that hypnosis works to alleviate chronic pain, and medical imaging studies have shown that hypnotic therapy influences all of the cortical and neuro-physiological processes that underline pain. Current scientific research shows that hypnotherapy treatment causes both pain perception thresholds, and pain tolerance levels, to be strikingly increased.

Why use Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT) to treat chronic pain?
HCT is safe, drug free, non-invasive, evidence based and also works to support other medical and alternative therapeutic approaches you may be using in your multidisciplinary approach to healing. My own experience of utilizing a range of health options including hypnosis to gain long-term remission in my own journey with chronic pain (CRPS) is a valuable resource that I bring to patients. I can help you navigate those choices to find what’s right for you, so that you gain real improvements in wellbeing and quality of life.

Science has discovered that thoughts, emotions and physical movement create chemical reactions in our body, which either calm down our central nervous system or turn the alarm volume up. By changing your response to pain and the way you think about pain, you can in fact change your pain state. Plus, when we tap into previous memories of being healthy and happy it allows us to rebuild the neuro-net that our brain relies on and our cell memory.

How we focus our attention can have a significant impact on our experience of pain. Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. The more we can divert our attention from pain, the less signal we create in our pain pathways. The less signal in our pain pathways, the less pain receptors and sprouts our nerves create, and the less sensitive our nerves become. When engaged in or focus on enjoyable experiences, we increase our production of good chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as endorphins. And, as you know, these ‘good’ chemicals help to calm pain pathways even more. Because hypnotherapy is a state of focused concentration it can create and absorb you in a desirable and comfortable state, and your brain can start to pay attention to that instead of pain.

We also want to focus on the Vagus nerve and the importance it has in chronic pain. The Vagus nerve is one of the largest nerve systems in the body. The name Vagus is Latin for “wandering,” which describes the long and complicated path this nerve takes through the body and all of the different systems it comes in contact with. In some cases this nerve is linked to medical conditions such as low blood pressure, and in other cases doctors will stimulate this nerve to help treat disorders. Stimulating the Vagus nerve with something as easy as an abdominal breath can release endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin.

Biofeedback allows us to objectively monitor your heart rhythms and display the physiological level of coherence – an optimal state in which the heart, mind and emotions are operating in sync and balance, and the immune, hormonal and nervous systems function in a state of harmonious coordination.

Pain and the brain…
Pain is an output our brain makes to defend us. It is what alerts us to danger and it acts as a protective mechanism to make us stop and do what we need to, to take care of ourselves. Our brain decides if something is painful or not. This is hard to comprehend because we feel pain in parts of our body, therefore we believe the pain comes from those parts, but in fact pain is determined by the brain.

However, when pain is ongoing the body’s danger response to sensory input becomes over sensitized and the alarm system stays on red alert causing a process called ‘Central Nervous System Sensitization’; then fears, thoughts and beliefs become involved and start contributing to the chronic pain state. Chronic pain sufferers end up feeling as though pain has engulfed their life, feeling helpless and hopeless. The good news however, is that HCT can change that. It can help you break the chains that chronic pain holds you in, thereby letting in the possibility for change and new perspectives.

A Multimodality / discipline approach…
A multimodality approach is needed in order to address the different facets of physical and emotional health involved in the treatment of chronic pain. Once you decide to get involved in your own healing, as captain of your team, you will need to find the protocol and/or team that works best for you.

Clinical trial findings and MRI studies support the fact that hypnotherapy is a valuable tool that will support your ability to learn new ways of dramatically decreasing your chronic pain and dealing with the impact it has had on your life.

What the research tells us…
• The brain is plastic! The brain’s neuroplasticity means that it is not a fixed and final thing; it can change the way it works and the way your body responds to its messages. “Neruo is for ‘neuron’, the nerve cells in our brains and nervous systems. Plastic is for ‘changeable…modifiable’” (The Brain That Changes Itself, Norman Doidge MD, 2007).
• The neural pathways that take messages to and from the brain can be altered, and new paths can be created. The latest brain research shows that our brain has the ability to change its function and structure through thought and activity, but only when it is in a state of openness, creativity and freedom from stress. Because hypnotherapy helps you reduce the significant levels of stress that occur in your body as a result of experiencing ongoing pain, it creates the necessary open and creative space for your brain to begin changing its responses. (Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia, August 2011)
• Thoughts are one of the most powerful influences on your mood and emotions. The way you think about yourself, your situation, and your future is extremely important in chronic pain, for a number of reasons. The more you can reduce your own distress with your thinking, the more you reduce your adrenaline levels, which in turn is good for desensitizing your nervous system. The more you can generate helpful thinking patterns that improve your mood, the more helpful neurotransmitters you are likely to produce, such as opiates. These are your body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. When your body produces ‘feel good’ chemicals, they help to reduce the level of signal in your pain pathways. (CPA Australia
• Research has shown that being able to focus attention on a task, activity, or experience – or to distract yourself – reduces pain and distress for people in chronic pain. An important point about attention is that we all only have a limited amount of attention to allocate to various aspects of our experience. If much of our attention is taken up by a particular thing, then there is less attention to be allocated to anything else. (CPA Australia
• There is growing recognition that hypnosis is helpful for altering the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to the pain state.
• The findings suggest that self-hypnosis training for chronic pain has two primary effects (a) it creates a long lasting (possibly permanent) change in the way the person and brain processes pain information, so that they experience a decrease in ongoing daily average pain, and (b) provides skills that they can use on a regular basis to experience periods of comfort.
• New sciences such as New Biology, Quantum Physics, and Molecular Science, all recognize that human beings are a dynamic organic process. These scientific perspectives contend that it is not the individual parts, but the whole that provides for in-depth understanding. The human organism is not perceived as isolated or compartmentalized, but rather is studied as a living system. No longer an “it “ – an object – the human being is recognized as a dynamic ever-changing process, embedded in a field of relationships and information. (From Changing the Language of Body: from Object to Process article by Liz Koch). This relational field moves between your thoughts, emotions, and body and is intrinsically linked. Hypnotherapy works with the whole person in a powerful way that harnesses their mind, body spirit self to achieve healing and transformation.
• Researchers are not sure exactly how or why biofeedback works. However, there does seem to be at least one common thread: most people who benefit from biofeedback have conditions that are brought on or made worse by stress. For this reason, many scientists believe that relaxation is the key to successful biofeedback therapy. When your body is under chronic stress, internal processes like blood pressure become overactive. Guided by a biofeedback therapist, you can learn to lower your blood pressure through relaxation techniques and mental exercises. When you are successful, you see the results on the monitor, which encourages your efforts. (University of Maryland Medical Center)
• The limbic system can influence chronic pain. A conceptual framework is presented suggesting conscious and subconscious interpretation of emotional responses to events can impact all systems of the body generating or modifying chronic pain symptoms. The limbic system can directly modify the activity of the autonomic, immune, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. Through these systems it is able to alter the activity in all other systems. It is important to note that multiple systems are being affected simultaneously. The end result is that pain may be felt in a specific region, which can be viewed in the context of current knowledge on pain physiology and the neuromatrix. (University of West London)

You can utilize HCT to break the chains from chronic pain. Doing so will help you to regain your life by dramatically decreasing your pain, increasing restorative sleep, decreasing and controlling stress, anxiety and/or PTSD, and empowering you to engage in a meaningful life again.