Knowledge Base


What is Hypnosis?

There is no exact definition of hypnosis. For some, it’s about the power of suggestion during a specific state of consciousness. For others, the definition is broader and includes meditation, relaxation and focused thinking. Generally, hypnosis is used to control physical function or response; for patients with neuropathic pain, it’s used in pain management. It’s also used to assist with other pain-related issues, such as trouble sleeping and mood.

How does it work?

How hypnosis works is not fully understood. Some believe that hypnosis delivers the patient into a trance-like state, while others feel that the individual is simply better able to concentrate and relax or is more responsive to suggestion. Hypnosis may result in relief of pain by acting on chemicals in the nervous system, slowing impulses. 

The effect of hypnosis on pain relief varies widely from patient to patient. Hypnosis has been shown to reduce the intensity of chronic pain in some patients for up to 12 months. More than that, patients who undergo hypnosis can develop strong self-management techniques, which help to control pain on a day-to-day basis. 

Related evidence

Jensen MP, Patterson DR. Hypnotic approaches for chronic pain management: Clinical implications of recent research findings. American Psychologist. 2014 Feb. doi: 10.1037/a0035644.

Tan G, Rintala DH, Jensen MP, Fukui T, Smith D, Williams W. A randomized controlled trial of hypnosis compared with biofeedback for adults with chronic low back pain. Eur J Pain. 2014 Jun 17. doi: 10.1002/ejp.545. [Epub ahead of print]