Question: Given your focus and expertise, if someone is in chronic pain and you could only give him/her one piece of advice to put them on a path to recovery, what would you tell them?
Why ask this question? Well, we feel that it's a good idea to seek information from multiple outlets to gain new perspectives. It's great to learn new things.
We believe that chronic pain should be attacked from multiple angles such as with movement, mindset, and nutrition (find the whole roundup of experts here).
Here is what Vicky Santiago, a Clinical Hypnotherapist, had to say about this question:
"Pain is a messenger, sent by our subconscious minds. When we burn our finger, the pain is there to tell us to remove our finger from the heat source. Then, the pain is meant to stop as healing begins, so that we can identify when something is wrong in the process, like an infection. However, if the pain signal doesn't get switched off, it's a sign that there's something bigger going on. That there's another message that still hasn't been received.
Once you can figure out what that message is, there is no reason for the pain to stay. And the subconscious mind can be encouraged to turn the pain down or off.
There's lots of techniques that a Hypnotherapist can use to do this. By helping a client into a hypnotic trance state, a Hypnotherapist is able to dialogue directly with the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the part that runs our background programming and belief systems, and it always knows exactly what is going on. When you zone out while driving your car, thinking about what to buy at the store or whatever, and you arrive at your destination without being aware of the journey, it was your subconscious that was driving the car. This is one example of how we enter into trance states multiple times a day. Others include when we're daydreaming and drifting off to sleep.
So, what can you do right now to figure out your pain's message?
To begin, know that there are two types of pain. The first is the original 'actual' pain signal.
The second is the 'perceived' pain, which is created by the inner dialogue about the pain, which you may not even be aware of. If you find yourself saying things like "I can't cope, this is killing me, it's a nightmare", your perceived pain will be much stronger than the actual pain signal. Instead, aim to create a new inner dialogue that serves you. "I'm strong, every day I'm coping better," etc.
Now, ask yourself some questions, either when you're in a calm quiet state, or with a Hypnotherapist. It's important to be totally honest.
When did the pain start?
What else was going on in your life at this time?
Is there a link here?
Does the pain have some secondary benefit?
For example, some clients find that the pain is trying to protect them from repeating the action that caused the hurt in the first place (e.g. back pain when horse-riding after falling off a horse). Others have found that their pain was a physical expression of their emotional turmoil (e.g. during a relationship breakup.) Others have realized that they were attached to a particular upside that came with the pain (e.g. not feeling lonely because of the daily visits and attention from care workers, or not having to return to a hated job while on disability).
Once the message has been understood, you can thank your subconscious mind for trying to help you out and tell it that you don't need the pain anymore. You can imagine a pain dial and visualize turning it right down to off. Doing this while in a hypnotic state makes it even more effective."