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 http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• 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 http://www.chronicpainaustralia.org.au)
• 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.

 

CRPS – You Don’t Have To Give In To Your Pain…

I attended the RSDSA conference in LaJolla yesterday.  The theme of the conference was, “Treating the Whole Person: Optimizing Wellness.”  I love the philosophy behind treating the whole person and optimizing wellness, because that is how each person will regain their life.  That’s how I did it!  

 

It was a great experience to meet other people that had been diagnosed with CRPS/RSD and their caretakers.  I’ll be honest this was the first RSDSA conference that I had been to.  I look forward to going to more in the future and hopefully being a speaker too.

 

One common thread that I heard throughout the day was different ways for CRPS patients to cope with their pain, to put small goals in place that they can achieve, to stay grounded, to look to the positive, etc.  I love all of these suggestions.  I know they help and are key in helping to get through those tough days when pain levels are high.

 

Yet from a couple of the doctors that spoke I heard comments that I didn’t agree with:  “Providing mere relief…”, “Results are good…” and “Healthier with their CRPS”.  As someone that was diagnosed with CRPS (type 2), lived with it for 6+ years, tried all Traditional treatment options, was treated globally, and finally gained remission in 2013 – I think I can say that from a patient prospective the above comments were not music to my ears.  Yes, it is important to be as healthy as possible but it is just as important to have some type of tangible results for the patient in regards to dramatically decreasing pain levels on a long-term basis.

 

I heard heartwarming stories about young ladies that pushed through their pain to regain some normalcy in their life, but they are still dealing with the CRPS demons.  Whether it was a new injury that caused the CRPS to return or perhaps it people have learned to push through their pain; either way there has to be a better way.

 

There is a huge push for Ketamine Infusion therapy right now for CRPS and other conditions.  I know it can bring short-term relief to CRPS patients and then follow-up Ketamine boosts are needed to stay pain free.  Is this the right treatment option for you?

 

I listened to a Naturopathic Doctor talk about the need to change the paradigm and balance the body.  I completely agree with these statements.  What I didn’t agree with was being “healthier with CRPS”.  I don’t know about you but I can be the healthiest person on this planet but if I am still in pain then I am not too happy.   I’ve actually treated athletes that were diagnosed with CRPS.  Their concern was centered around their pain.

 

What we have to look at is CRPS and most chronic pain conditions including chronic migraines are also tied into the Limbic System in the brain.  Dr. Sajben talked about the glia and how important they are in the pain process.  We have to take into consideration the ‘mind-body’ connection if we want to break the pain loop, help CRPS and chronic pain patients to get out of fight/flight, to balance the ANS, and address many other issues associated with chronic pain.  These connections have to be made.  Then we have to treat the whole person.  This is not just the chronic pain.  It is everything tied in with it:  stress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and/or PTSD.  Once an individual is able to regain normalcy in these areas then they will regain their life.  Yes, it is possible.

 

I personally don’t believe that any person diagnosed with chronic pain has to give in to their pain or live with extremely high pain levels.  With HCT (Hypnosis Combined Therapy) we have found that chronic pain patients, CRPS, and other diagnosis have been able to dramatically decrease pain levels and many gain remission.  This is an evidence based, non-invasive, drug-free protocol that is providing long-term relief.  HCT: clinical hypnosis, biofeedback, light/sound therapy, neuroplasticity training, working with the Limbic System, cell memory and more… is allowing people to regain their lives when they thought they had exhausted all their options. 

 

It is important for every pain patient on a global basis to find the treatment protocol that is right for them.  We are all individuals and as such what works for one may not work for all.  Please do your research, ask questions and be your own advocate. 

 

Traci’s Story

My name is Traci Patterson.  I’m the Founder and Director of Advanced Pathways Hypnosis, a Keynote and motivational speaker, writer, Delegate with the International Pain Foundation, an Ambassador with the U.S. Pain Foundation, patient advocate, and CRPS survivor.

Who was I prior to my diagnosis with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)?

Prior to my diagnosis with CRPS, I was a healthy, active, mother, wife, healthcare executive (at the top of my professional career), volunteer (with Young Life, Rising Tide and Orangewood Children’s Foundation), mentor, had been on the board for Tustin Eastern Little League, enjoyed softball, kayaking, outdoor activities, baseball, gardening, landscaping, and staying very busy.  I was one of those individuals that was always busy either with our family, volunteering or just helping friends or family.  I just loved to be active and busy.  That all changed after December, 2006 when I stepped over a box in our garage and turned my ankle.  What started out as a simple sprained ankle, triggered dominoes to something that what we could have never imagined. 

How would you define Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), is a long term condition that often worsens with time. It is characterized by severe pain and sensitivity, swelling, and changes in the skin. It may initially affect one limb and then spread throughout the body; 35% of people report symptoms throughout their whole body.

The cause of CRPS is unknown though CRPS is associated with dysregulation of the central nervous system and autonomic nervous system resulting in multiple functional loss, impairment and disability. Precipitating factors include injury and surgery, although there are cases where no injury had occurred at the original site. CRPS is not caused by psychological factors, yet the constant pain and reduced quality of life has been known to cause psychological problems (such as increased depression and anxiety). Although “research does not reveal support for specific personality or psychopathology predictors of the condition,” CRPS is associated with psychosocial effects, including impaired social and occupational function.  It is classified as an amplified musculoskeletal pain syndrome.

Somebody who has chronic pain is living with a daily challenge to cope with pain that does not have a quick fix, sometimes it does not have a cure and the best you can hope for is to get into remission. As a patient you feel like you have to learn how to alter your dreams and bring focus and meaning back to your life.  Patients living in chronic pain also have to cope with others looking at them, not understanding what they are trying to deal with day in and day out, because most people only see a glimpse of what you are going through and to them you look normal.  You are not in a cast, you are not necessarily in the hospital, and you are home on medication dealing with a horrible pain condition that is wreaking havoc on your body.  This is why Chronic Pain, CRPS/RSD and many neurological pain syndromes are also known as ‘Invisible’ pain conditions.   

 How are people’s lives affected by this illness? What changes when they start dealing with this illness?

Your life is altered, your dreams for the future are never going to be exactly as you planned them to be, you have to change your expectations in life because now you are dealing with a condition with chronic pain, and now that you have pain you are not physically able to do things the way you used to.  So it alters your life.  Many will say it’s a matter of learning to live with it, around it and accept the changes that have come to your life.  The career that you had may now be gone.  The many activities that you were involved with, you now cannot continue due to high pain levels and it is very hard for others to understand this.  People that once stood by your side start to disappear as they just don’t understand why you are unable to do what you used to.  Your life as you once knew it changes, and this isn’t even talking about the impact it has on your family.

Why is this illness different from others illnesses?

You have to face this for the rest of your life, unless you are one of the individuals that can get into remission. Some people go to physical therapy for 6 to 8 weeks and then they get better. There is no cure for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Some people have an injury and they go through their process and the pain; medication, PT, injections, blocks and all of a sudden they graduate and then they’re able to get into remission and get back to their lives (this is not the norm). People like me that don’t respond to normal treatments go through aggressive treatment protocols that can include: heavy medications, injections, PT, regional blocks, lumbar sympathetic blocks, and maybe even Spinal Cord Stimulators.  Yes, I did all of that and had no improvement.  As a matter of fact everything they did to treat me made me worse!  I was told my case was one of the worse my Pain Management doctor had ever seen.  It was very aggressive and extremely volatile.  It started out in my left foot and ankle, moved into my back when they put in a Spinal Cord Stimulator (they stated this had never happened before to previous patients), then I had a build-up of scar tissue on my Dura of the spine that would have paralyzed me, so the final Spinal Cord Stimulator had to be removed.  At this point my Pain Management doctor was giving up!  My CRPS kept trying to ‘mirror’ to my right leg, but we were able to stop it each time.  How was I ever going to get better?  I refused to give up, my life had already been drastically altered, and I had been living life as a Chronic Pain patient on a cocktail of pain meds to just live…  I just knew in my heart that there had to be some answer out there, some hope, some way of getting my CRPS into remission and I refused to give up! 

At this point in my life I knew I had already been to hell and back, my CRPS was moving – getting worse (it was in my left foot/ankle, my entire back and had recently moved into my pelvic region), I knew God had other plans for me and I just had to figure out where that path was going to lead me.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Traci’s Case Report

My Name is Traci.  I was 36 years old when I originally sprained my ankle stepping over a box in December, 2006.  That started my journey.  Then a little over a year later I was formally diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in January, 2008. 

I was then referred to a DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) for assessment. After conservative treatment that included a CAM Boot, Physical Therapy and cortisone shots, the pain continued.

The DPM followed with three (3) surgeries of which several errors were made, including cutting the Tibial Nerves, Lateral Plantar Nerve, Rupturing the Posterior Tibial Tendon, and making the incision in the wrong place. 

I had two (2) surgeries by a top Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon to reconstruct my Posterior Tibial Tendon, and later he completed a Tarsal Tunnel Release hoping to help with the nerve pain.

During these surgeries, my pain continued to increase disproportionate to what should have been occurring.

In 2008, I was officially diagnosed with CRPS by my Pain Management doctor, and he put together an aggressive treatment plan to try to treat my condition.  Initially, he thought he could get my condition under control within 6 months to a year, and told me this could be one of the most devastating diagnoses of my life.

He started with putting me on a lengthy list of opioid pain medications that included: Methadone, Dilaudid, Ketamine (oral and topical), and more…

In addition to these medications he tried regional blocks with no results, and then we did 13 Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks (the last one shut down my adrenal glands, landing me in the hospital for several days).  Thus, my PM Doc stopped any further blocks and I was then told I had to get a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS).  In addition to the Sympathetic Blocks I also received a prescription from my pain management doctor to undergo HBOT.  I did 25-30 sessions of HBOT, which I had heard could help to relieve pain, but did not get relief.  The next step was a SCS trial which was a success. Yet once the real spinal cord stimulator (SCS) was implanted it functioned in-properly and caused swelling every time the battery was charged.  Thus, I had to have a 2nd surgery to change out the SCS Battery. It was at this time that I started to notice some CRPS Pain in my back.  I had continued trouble with the SCS, so the system was removed and replaced (Medtronic to Boston Scientific) – no precautions were taken to make sure the CRPS didn’t move into the back.

Following this surgery, I had full CRPS in my back (my waist to my shoulders).  I was told by the Neurosurgeon this was the first time he had this happen.  I had further issues with the Boston Scientific SCS, which included a build-up of scar tissue on the Dura of my Spine.  Upon further review, it was found in several articles that SCS in rare cases could cause scar tissue on the Dura that would lead to paralysis.  Therefore, my SCS was removed/explanted (2011).

It was at this time that my Pain Management doctor told me, “…after all of this I’m afraid to touch you. There is nothing else I can do at this time.  Therefore, you may have to do your best with pain meds.”

Three weeks following my post-op of the SCS removal, I flew to Frankfurt, Germany, for further treatment.  This was the first of my four trips over to Frankfurt, Germany, for treatment of my CRPS.

The first trip, we started with building up my immune system, Stem Cells (utilizing my own blood), Thymus Cell Extract, Blood Ozone Therapy, Neural Therapy with Ozone, Myers Cocktail IV’s, Lymphatic Massages, Physical Therapy and Detoxing.

On my second trip to Frankfurt, we noticed there was one area where they removed the SCS that was problematic.  Following an ultrasound, they discovered there was something foreign in the incision.  The Medical Director in Germany re-opened this area and found there was some gauze left in my incision from when the SCS was removed.  This was cleaned up, left open to heal, debrided on a daily basis until it closed on its own.

During this trip and my subsequent trips to Germany, I completed the following types of treatments (this is inclusive of the last three trips):

Neural Therapy with Ozone

Ionization

Ozone Therapy

Blood Ozone Therapy

Thymus Cell Therapy

Regional Hyperthermia (3x/day – 5days/week: first CRPS patient in world to be treated with Regional Hyperthermia)

Alpha Lipoic IV’s

Myers Cocktail IV’s

Homeopathic Injections

Regeneris Therapy (RNA Cell Therapy – 4 weeks treatment protocol)

PK Protocol

Physical Therapy and Massage

Bodywork

(Last trip to Germany was August-September, 2013).

 

I still feel that my trips to Germany were important in my over-all treatment process as they were able to shrink the area(s) of my CRPS and decrease my pain levels overall.  Following my last trip, my pain levels remained at a 5 for approximately six weeks and then started to increase again.

I contacted the Medical Director in Germany and it was suggested to do two more rounds of Regeneris or return to Frankfurt for continued treatment.

Between my trips to Germany, I was also treated in Mexico in tandem with the Medical Director from Frankfurt.

In Mexico, he treated me with the following over 3 different stays:

Insulin Potentiated Therapy (IPT – utilizing pain meds)

PK Protocol

Physical Therapy

Chiro

Alpha Lipoic IV’s

Myers Cocktail IV’s

Rife

Acuscope

Neural Therapy with Ozone

Ondamed Biofeedback

HBOT and detox

Regional Hyperthermia

 

These treatments only decreased my pain levels to a 6-7.  My last trip to Mexico was July, 2013.

Following my last trip from Germany I contacted highly regard clinic known for hypnosis for possible treatment.  I had previously done some hypnosis sessions, but was referred there due to their background and being known for Pain Management.  After speaking we set up a time to be seen mid-November, 2013.

I was told that it would be a week long intensive session that would include our time together and homework each evening (i.e. reading, listening to CD’s, etc…).  To me, this was an exciting avenue to go down and I was 100% dedicated to get the most out of everything that was set before.

Day one, I walked in with what I formerly called “Pain Levels”, and now have changed, calling them “Comfort Levels” up in the 8-9 range.  The evening prior they were at a 10+ due to the full day of travel to get from CA to my destination.  Little did I know, although I had hoped and prayed it would be, that my ‘Comfort Levels’ would drop to a ZERO by the end of the week! 

Over the week we used a combination of:

Hypnosis

Imagery / Meditation

Biofeedback

Light/Sound Therapy

“Issue Solution Training”

and learning Self-Hypnosis

 

While working together the first day, it was discovered that I was also dealing with a case of PTSD due to everything that I had dealt with over the years; the treatments; being given medications for anesthesia and not having them work – then listening to the physicians; having my Pain Management doctor tell me that there was nothing more he could do and I would just have to live with the pain;  going through some treatments that were extremely uncomfortable; and negative comments from physicians about the possible outcome of my situation.  This did not surprise me to say the least.

From the first day to the last day I saw progress.

Thursday of our week together, I was scheduled for a massage.  To be honest, I was a bit reluctant and worried walking to that appointment due to the fact that I had not been able to tolerate a massage on my back since 2011 when CRPS had moved into my back.  I knew that my ‘Comfort Level’ had already dropped to a ZERO in my back, but I wasn’t sure if I trusted it enough to do the massage.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how relaxed and comfortable I was during the massage.  I had no pain in my back and I was able to keep my ‘Comfort Level’ at a Zero.  To me this was a test, and it showed me what I had accomplished to that point was holding and would continue to get better.

The other huge thing that they were able to assist me with was a continual spasm or uncontrollable motor deficiency in the little toe on my left foot.  This was in addition to my CRPS, and it was due to a nicked Lateral Plantar Nerve.  I had had many doctors consult with me regarding this, and I was always told that they had never seen anything like it.  They had no idea what to do, etc.  Thus, I had been dealing/living with my little toe being in continual spams since 2007, and in 3 days, we were able to get my little to stop moving!  Wow, this was a mechanical problem and it had stopped.  This was huge!  Talk about bringing a smile to my face. It was intriguing to see how the process of hypnosis could access areas of the brain to stop the continuous signals being sent out.

Yes, it was an intense week of learning, working, and following all of the instructions given me, but to have my ‘Comfort Levels’ drop to ZERO for the first time since 2006 when I sprained my ankle, then was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), it was well worth it.

One of the things that I learned was that every cell has a memory.  It is essential to provide the cells with a new memory other than pain, and when you do this, new memories will take hold as the cells regenerate every 90 days.  Thus, in approximately 90 days after arriving home, new memories should be strong.

When I arrived home I was barraged with questions, because friends and family members immediately noticed a marked difference in my demeanor, a bigger smile on my face, my ability to put weight on my left foot for the first time since 2006, and an overall sense of well-being.  This was after 5 days with of treatment with hypnosis in a multi-therapeutic approach.

Once home and settled, I put myself into a routine that included listening to the CDs of the sessions that I had completed, doing self-hypnosis, and utilizing the tools given to me.  After the first week home, I was no longer utilizing my cane to walk.  I still needed to work on my gait, but this was a big milestone.  During this time, I also met with my Pain Management doctor.  He was used to me going to Germany for treatment and coming back with their protocols, but this time, he had no idea what to expect.  When he entered the exam room, I was sitting there with socks and running shoes on, no cane and long pants that could touch my ankle and medial side of my foot. 

My Pain Management doctor looked at me, pushed back on his stool, and started looking around the room. He was in disbelief at what he was seeing.  He then asked me to take off my left shoe and sock, because he wanted to see if my left little toe was still spasming or doing the rhythmical movement.  When he saw that it was not moving, I had shoes on, my coloration was not off in my foot, and I was feeling great, he was dumbfounded.  He next words were, “I’m being punked. Where are the cameras and how are you doing this?”  I had to laugh.  He wanted to know what I did in my treatments, but since he doesn’t understand what I did, he was skeptical.  Then when I asked him to take me off of my pain medications, he was awestruck.  He hesitated, to say the least, because he wasn’t sure this was going to hold.  As I told him, I am confident in where I am and what I have accomplished.  I have no pain at this time, so I don’t feel that I should continue on pain medications, and I asked again to be titrated off of them.

Week by week, I continued to see progress.  Having the ability to walk my dog at the park with no pain, completely comfortable, completing household chores with no discomfort, babysitting my nephew who was 6 months old with complete confidence, and spending time with my family in activities that I would not have been able to have done previously, these are all the rewards of learning self-hypnosis and following through with what I was taught during my treatment.

Now over 3 years later I continue to be completely pain free and have had the ability to regain my life.  It is important for people living with CRPS and other chronic pain conditions to hear about positive outcomes such as mine.  This is not a one off or something that cannot happen to others.  As a matter of fact I am honored to be able to treat chronic pain patients now with HCT (Hypnosis Combined Therapy).  This protocol is very similar to what helped me get into remission with some exciting changes based upon medical advanced.

I’m now seeing clients on an international basis with outstanding outcomes.

I know for some it is hard to believe, but trust me with everything that I went through with treatments in the United States (Traditional Western Medicine), in Frankfurt, German (Integrative Medicine), Mexico (Integrative Medicine), and then back to the US to be treated by a highly recommended clinic… I think I can say I looked at everything, tried just about everything and found what worked for me.  I have heard from others with CRPS that they have tried hypnosis and it just doesn’t work.  I too tried hypnosis prior to going back to be treated in 2013, my previous treatments with hypnosis didn’t help me – then again they were not well versed in chronic pain and not certified in ‘Pain Management’ either.  When I was referred to the last clinic I was told by everyone that it was the best, that they did things differently, and they do – they work with the biology and physiology of the brain and how it causes Chronic Pain.  It is a completely different way of looking at things, working with Chronic Pain and finding a solution for the pain.  What works for one will not necessarily work for all, but if it is successful for one it is likely going to be successful for many!

Now you have a better understanding of what Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is, how it affects a patient, just a little bit about what we go through and some of the treatments we endure.  I was a fortunate patient in that I was able to get into remission in 2013. 

I was determined to find a treatment somewhere, some way to help me regain my life, and I did it!  I went from not being able to have anything touch the areas where I had CRPS to being able to put a sock on my foot, to wearing a shoe and not being in pain.  I got my life back.

This is why I am so passionate about sharing my story, getting information out about chronic pain, trying to educate as many people as possible on the effects of CRPS/RSD and chronic pain syndromes, and viable treatment options.

Let me ask this question before you read on… if you or a loved one are willing to look at opioid therapy, spinal cord stimulators, pain pumps and other invasive treatments that are only bandaides… why are you not willing to seriously look at other treatments that have worked on other CRPS/RSD and chronic pain patients?  Is it because your doctor(s) are not talking to you about these types of treatments?  Possibly because the pharmaceutical companies are not advertising it or the insurance companies are not pushing it? Yes, I know that many patients, like me, find out about these treatment options after going through the ringer.  But, if this is a way to get your life back, to regain what you lost, and to start fresh… is it not worth taking a serious look at your options?   Please take a serious look at what will really work to help you or your loved one in the long run.   No, not every treatment is right for every patient, but if it is evidence based and non-invasive is it not worth looking into? 

HCT by Traci Patterson is helping chronic patients that have been diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, neuropathic pain, Fibromyalgia, cancer pain, phantom limb pain, PTSD, migraines, etc… to regain their lives on a global basis.  

I have a dynamic background from a perspective that few if any one other Certified Instructor and  Clinical Hypnotist can offer.  My background as a chronic pain patient diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), someone that was treated with/utilized hypnosis to get into remission, and is now a practicing hypnotist is rare.  I have patients that contact me on a global basis searching for viable treatment options.   

If you have questions regarding CRPS, my story or would like information on how you or a loved one can find relief from chronic pain please contact me.

 Info@Advancedpathways.com  | http://www.AdvancedPathways.com | 714-717-6633

Cancer: Doctors, Chemotherapy to Prescriptions – Knowing Your Options

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

 

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society and NIH there are 14 million new cases of cancer each year. Diagnoses of cancer are expected to increase by 70% in the next 20 years. Fortunately, only 5-10% of these cases are attributed to hereditary genetics. This means that 90% of cancers are preventable! Thus it is tied back to environmental toxins, poor nutrition and other stressors that are incredibly toxic to our health.

When a patient initially receives that diagnosis and hears the hollow word of “cancer” it is more than devastating. Our society has made this word, “cancer”, to be the equivalent of death, but it should not be this way. Cancer does not have to be a death sentence. It does not have to mean months or years of treatments that will suck the life from you. It is a wake-up call to the person diagnosed and to their family members and a message that needs to be taken very seriously.

What I have seen and learned from walking down this path with a loved one is that cancer is scary, cancer can be emotional and jeering, but ultimately we have control. Control over the doctors we choose to entrust with the care, the road we choose to go down, the treatments we choose to accept or decline, and the medications that we choose to take or not take. Ultimately it is about being as knowledgeable as possible, being your own advocate, not being afraid to speak up for yourself and trusting your gut instinct.

I cringe every time we walk into the oncology office with the bowl of candy on the counter and the cancer patients helping themselves. Hello, sugar feeds cancer and causes it to grow! So, why in the heck would you put a bowl of candy out for your cancer patients?

Remember, knowledge is power.

Do your research, look online, read some books and make yourself an expert in your diagnosis. Know that if you change your nutrition and add in specific supplements that it can alter your course for the better.

After several bouts with cancer and working with many different protocols my husband made the decision to move forward with chemotherapy. The combination and dosages were going to be grueling to say the least. We were told that he would have nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, diarrhea, etc. It wasn’t if, it was when. Needless to say we were given all of the typical medications that are dispensed for the side effects and sent home to get ready for the big day. I could not just sit back and watch someone that I cared for go through that knowing that something could be done to help decrease the side effects. It was time to reach out to colleagues and friends. I found a protocol and case study from Harvard that showed utilizing a photon bed within 24 hours of chemotherapy would increase healthy cells and decrease the noxious side effects of chemotherapy. More research showed using probiotics would increase the good flora in the stomach and intestines. This is key because chemotherapy kills off the good flora and this is what leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Rinsing with warm salt water can help prevent mouth sores. Add in some hypnosis specific to chemotherapy and giving an anchor to control any symptoms gives the patient the ultimate control. Of course diet, nutrition, juicing, sleep, decreased stress, etc. also play a big part in the body being able to recover and heal.

The addition of the protocols and resources that were researched has kept my husband from having to go through the nausea, vomiting, mouth sores and major side effects of the chemotherapy. It is amazing to see the difference between what he is doing and the other patients that I see on a weekly basis that are weak, beaten down, and going through hell due to a treatment that is supposed to help them. It breaks my heart watching and listening to the other patients that are dealing with unneeded side effects because physicians are unwilling to do more than dispense medications. Medications that may not be needed if protocols could or would be put in place to keep their patients from suffering needlessly.

Life is a journey. Cancer is its own journey and one that cannot be taken lightly. But, with proper tools, protocols, knowledge and treatment options it is survivable. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate or to be your love one’s advocate. Ask questions, speak from your heart and listen to your gut.

Be well.

New CDC Guidelines Effects on the Pain Community

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

 

In the last month the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) handed down new guidelines pertaining to opioid prescribing and the National Pain Strategy (NPS) was implemented. These guidelines and strategies have left the chronic pain community reeling, discouraged and feeling left behind. This is the time for advocacy for all evidence and outcome based treatments to be available to patients.

At this time the majority of chronic pain patients are receiving inadequate care and are not receiving information on all treatment options. With the new guidelines that have been set in place doctors and insurance companies are now limiting access to medications that can keep patients functional. If these limitations are going to be put in place then pain patients need access to all evidence and outcome based, non-invasive, drug-free treatment options.

I am proud to be the owner and founder of Advanced Pathways Hypnosis. I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) myself in 2007 and was fortunate enough to get into remission in 2013. I take what I learned through my journey with chronic pain and utilize that to help others regain their lives.

To make this situation even more horrifying, is the realization that the majority of patients do not have access to the appropriate treatments. It is a disgrace to know that medical professionals are being forced to follow the oath they took to do what is best for their patients, or to follow new guidelines provided to them by the government due to fear of losing their medical license. These same clinicians’ feel that their hands are tied because other treatments that hold much potential to bringing relief – such as integrative and complementary therapies – are not covered or paid for by health insurance companies. Therefore, these treatment options for the most part are not even discussed with the patients.

I understand the feeling like no one cares or is listening. There should not be so many roadblocks for people to have access to information on all viable treatment options and to receive adequate care. Society needs to stop minimizing the pain of which they do not understand or cannot see on display.

However, lashing out against rhetoric and society is not going to solve these problems. The community needs to come together to advocate for access to all viable treatment options. A message that is honest and real needs to be pushed forward to the doctors, universities, insurance companies and elected officials. Now is the time to push for more than medications. We need to push for access to treatment options that will create a real difference in the lives of those living with pain. Become empowered and unify.

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.

 

It All Starts in the Waiting Room, and It’s a Wrap with Your Doctor

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

 

If you or a loved one has ever been diagnosed with a chronic pain condition, CRPS, cancer, PTSD or any other debilitating condition, this will hit home as you’ve been there. Where is ‘there’, you ask? The doctor’s office to obtain verification of a diagnosis, to gather information, and hopefully gain the answers you are seeking. What most people don’t realize is that initial time in the waiting room is starting to set the stage for what is to come. The thoughts that are whirling and twirling through your head all while sitting there in those uncomfortable chairs. The body language of those sitting around you is dreary, gloomy, and everything but uplifting. Starting to sound familiar? And these are just the uncomfortable feelings even before you get to see the doctor. What most people don’t realize is all of these uncomfortable feelings and emotions are setting the stage and putting us in a place where we are more vulnerable. We are in a place physically and mentally where anything that is said to us is taken very literally, and can either help us or hinder us.

You’re finally called back to ‘the room’, or the examination room. It is cold, sterile and very unwelcoming. After a few questions and the typical vital signs, the wait continues. Stress levels are increasing, anxiety is starting to settle in, and you are on the edge of your seat not knowing what to expect.

The doctor finally arrives. You get a quick handshake, if you’re lucky, and then it is down to business. During this time, what the doctor says, how they treat you, their mannerisms, whether they actually examine you or dismiss you, and their words, set the stage for how well you will fare. Patients that are dismissed, not examined, and/or are talked down to, tend to walk away feeling degraded and hopeless. The words that are spoken to a patient at a vulnerable time are key to their success or failure in their future.

Many patients with chronic pain, CRPS, cancer, PTSD, and other debilitating illnesses end up hearing negative statistics during their doctor’s visits. They are told things like, “This is probably the worst case I have seen,” or “You are one of my most complicated patients,” or “I’m sorry, but I don’t think we have anything else to offer you.” All of these negative comments set the stage and start the patient(s) down the path to future failures.

I am not here to bash physicians or Traditional Medicine. What I am here to state is how the information, the way it is presented to a patient, and the tone in how it is said, affects their outcome. As a whole, the healthcare industry needs to do a better job teaching practitioners to communicate effectively with their patients, to make sure that all of their options are on the table, and to keep an open mind about alternative solutions.

Patients and their loved ones are searching for answers. They are holding onto hope that they will find a way to get better. They are trying to find a doctor or practitioner that will provide solid answers and solutions to help them get better. I understand there are times that traditional therapies and treatments may not be enough to help heal someone or get them into remission, but that is the time for the treating physician to be open to looking outside of the box in order to help find a solution, or perhaps encourage the patient to do so. No one treatment will work for everyone. Thus, it is very important that patients have access to information on all treatment options available.

I think I can talk about this as I have been there as a patient diagnosed with CRPS and now as a loved one of someone diagnosed with cancer. I have learned through all of these experiences that the power of suggestion at the times when we are most vulnerable can determine our outcome if we allow it. Just know there are always options out there.

Never give up hope!