Hypnosis Combined Therapy: Providing Treatment Options and Relief for CRPS and Chronic Pain Patients

By: Traci Patterson, CH, CI – Owner and Founder, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

Today, over 1 million people are diagnosed with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) aka RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy) worldwide. While staggering, patients are not being given the options of treatments outside the box that can help them such as Hypnosis Combined Therapy (HCT). What we have found through research and tried methodology is HCT gives hope, and restores chronic pain patients’ lives.

The majority of patients diagnosed with CRPS aka RSD are treated with traditional methods (i.e. NSAIDS, PT, OT, local blocks, regional blocks, lumbar sympathetic blocks, ganglion blocks, pain medications/opioids, spinal cord stimulators and even pain pumps), and most do not see long term or permanent relief. Unfortunately, physicians are not trained in alternative or integrative methods to treat CRPS/RSD and other chronic pain conditions. Thus, patients and their loved ones do not hear about other options. Sometimes, we have to be our own advocate as a patient and bring this information to our physician. I did, and it changed my life.

HCT has allowed countless chronic pain patients (CRPS/RSD, Fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, chronic migraines, neuropathic pain, PTSD, etc.) to dramatically decrease their pain levels, if not get completely into remission, and regain their functionality. HCT therapies include: hypnosis, biofeedback, neuroplasticity training, cell memory, resetting the chronic pain loop in the limbic system, and more.

Hypnosis as an adjunct to medicine allows one to decrease pain and enhance healing. Often, a person with chronic pain may feel helpless, lost, and victimized. Hypnosis gives the person greater self-control, which decreases the effects on the autonomic system that activates the fight or flight response. Self-control also decreases the level of stress hormones. Both the reduction in fight or flight, and the decrease in stress hormones, can lead to a significant decrease in pain.[1]

If you have experienced hypnosis, you know that hypnosis is nothing more than focus and concentration. Hypnosis allows one to comfortably and easily set aside all the demands and pressures of everyday life. If you have never experienced formal hypnosis before, you will truly enjoy the experience. More importantly, it opens the door to a new perspective for making healthy changes in your life.

Many misconceptions about hypnosis exist today. However, the practice and process of hypnosis remains a consistent and safe approach to relieving anxiety, decreasing stress, and reducing pain. Many modern studies support the positive results of hypnosis. Although science continues to study why hypnosis works, there are many studies that reveal the complex interaction between our minds and our bodies, and our brains and our thoughts.[2] The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducts and supports medical research throughout the nation, and they support hypnosis for pain control. The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) endorsed hypnosis as a complementary, non-pharmacological management of pain in 2000.

Hypnosis works with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is not just in the brain or the head. According to research completed by Candace Pert, Ph.D., a research professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University, she states, “The subconscious mind is a part of every cell within the body. Every cell in the body has memory units. Each cell has over 6,000 receptor sites for proteins capable of interacting with signals and converting those signals into intracellular activity. Through molecular division, each cell divides into a daughter cell and the mother cell dies. The daughter cells replace the parent cells; however they still contain the cellular activity or memory of the mother cell. This cell replacement process occurs every three months, except in skeleton cells that divide every six months. With each division and replacement new memories can replace old memories, creating new behaviors from the cellular level.”[3]

Another key area of focus is working with the limbic system and the autonomic systems of the body. We understand that the human body is made up of four significant vital signs: heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and respiratory rate. Pain was added to this list of vital signs in 2000 by JCAHO. As with other vital signs, pain impacts a number of functions such as emotions, behavior, long-term memory and olfactory senses. The limbic system influences these same functions. Understanding how pain interacts in the limbic system and how it operates helps patients break the pain loop and move beyond chronic pain. “When we think the Limbic System responds”[4].

When the limbic system functions abnormally, numerous health problems can occur. Physical problems such as a lack of sleep, too much stress, or chronic pain, exacerbate the problems created by an out-of-balance limbic system. The results are devastating. In some cases, depending on the external factors, these imbalances can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the essence of stress turning into distress.

Hypnosis works well with the limbic system, specifically the Amygdala and the Hypothalamus, to change the stress response. Hypnosis allows a focused concentration and relaxation, resulting in an increase in oxygen throughout the body’s cells. This increase in oxygen has a major influence on decreasing a patient’s autonomic response to stress. Dr. John Rowlingson, the director of the University of Virginia Department of Anesthesiology Pain Management Center, is quoted as saying, “The limbic system might explain why therapies that act primarily in the brain, such as hypnosis, biofeedback, and brain stimulation, work so well to control pain.”

Hypnosis Combined Therapy – the research and science of the mind-body connection, knowledge of how brain mechanisms interact, and pulling this together in individualized treatment plans, is what makes it so successful. Utilizing different techniques through HCT, patients are able to break the chronic pain loop, bypass those devastating memories, and set a path towards hope and a new life.

This is the time when opioid restrictions are being put in place and the consequences will be dire for pain patients if they do not have options to turn to.  Every patient is different as are their needs.  Therefore, they need to find a treatment options / protocols that are right for them.  Just as we are advocating for the right for physicians to treat their patients and prescribe medications – it is just as important to advocate for access to all treatment options.


[1] Temes, Roberta, PhD. (1999). Medical Hypnosis and Introduction and Clinical Guide. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

[2] Lipton, Bruce, PhD. (2005). The Biology of Belief. Scottsdale: Conference Recordings.

[3] Pert, Candace B. PhD (1999). Molecules of Emotion. NY: Touchstone Publishing.

[4] Siegel, Ronald D. PsyD, Michael H. Urdang and Douglas R. Johnson M.D. (2002) Back Sense. New York: Broadway Books.