Jul 23, 2013

Mental Relief of Physical Pain

Go back to the times when you had these experiences:

You ran hot water on yourself in the shower and the area where the hot water was running became numb

You laid on an arm or hand when you slept and it “fell asleep”

You were busy working or playing a sport and, when you got home, you found you had a bruise or cut and you didn’t even know you had hurt yourself

If you’re a military veteran and you, or someone you were in combat with, were injured, maybe even severely, but didn’t realize it until you were in a situation where you could feel safe and then realized you/they had been wounded

These examples illustrate how the mind can remove the sensation of pain automatically, without any intentional thought on your part. But, is it really possible to get relief from physical pain through using your mind in a day-to-day environment? Can the mind really control a physical pain caused by things like; a cut, a broken bone, torn muscle, etc.? Let’s consider how the nerves and brain work together create the sensation we call “pain.

The brain is the central “computer” to all the nerve activity in our bodies. There are sensory receptors that constantly check for variance in pressure, temperature, and pain in our bodies. When a variance occurs, this starts the process of transduction. The sensory receptors convert external stimuli, like heat or pressure, into sensory impulses within the body. Once transduction occurs, bursts of nerve impulses are sent to the central nervous system, entering the spinal cord, and then sent to the brain through one of these neuronal pathways:

  • Through a pathway called the dorsal column tract located at the back of the spinal cord. Touch, vibration, and pressure impulses travel through this pathway.
  • Through a region of the spinal cord called the substantia gelatinosa, which then fires the neurons up to the brain in one of three different pathways known collectively as the spinothalmic tracts. These tracts carry impulses of pain and temperature.

Here’s what happens when the sensory inputs travel via sensory and neural pathways to the brain. There is an area in the brain called the Somatosensory Strip that, amazingly, extends from about one ear to the other ear across the brain that has a complete map of the entire body. This strip of cortex is sectioned into areas representing every part of the body, from the eyes, ears, nose, teeth, and jaws, to the arms, elbows, hands, each finger, down to each toe. Although there are other areas of the brain that receive information about the sense of touch, the Somatosensory Strip receives the primary inputs and then sends outputs or signals to other areas of the brain. Any interruption between the brain and the nerves can cause a lack of sensation to occur. As mentioned above, we’ve all experienced having no sensation from lying on an arm, hand, or other body part too long and it “goes to sleep”. This is called “paresthesia”.

How does all of this relate to pain management? If you have endured chronic pain, studies show that it is probably because of hyperstimualtion of central neuronal pathways which has led to neuropathological remodeling. This means that you have created a mind loop, a memory, a neuronal pathway of the sensation of pain that keeps running. (Think of this being like your reaction to the stimulus, “What’s your phone number?” You automatically trigger the pathway that contains your phone number) The purpose of pain is to alert you that you need to pay attention to a part of your body. When you don’t pay attention, the sensation of pain increases in order to get your attention. This “paying attention” isn’t just an acknowledgement that you have the sensation. The sensation is asking you to really care for the part of your body with the sensation that is painful. This doesn’t mean saying things like, “That damn leg! I’m going to walk on it just to show it who’s boss!” This will actually cause the pain to worsen.

With chronic pain, what happens is that you may have gotten injured and the sensation that was painful was there to alert you to it needing your attention. It sometimes happens that the brain forgets to shut off the “pain” signal after the need for it is gone. Again, hyperstimulation that causes the pathway to be continuously \”fired\”. I’m going off on a tangent for just a moment to help illustrate how the mind can provide relief from physical pain. I work with people on many different challenges that keep them from reaching their full potential. One of those things is smoking. If you have ever smoked, or known someone that smokes, and wanted to quit, you know it can be extremely tough. Smoking is said to be harder to stop than stopping the use of heroin. Almost every day I help someone stop smoking through the use of Hypnosis. It is actually very easy to stop smoking with the use of hypnosis because what it is able to do is to break the mind loop that smokers have. It isn’t the nicotine that keeps people smoking because over 93% of the nicotine is gone after just 8 hours. So, when a smoker wakes up, most of the nicotine is already gone. What smokers are addicted to are the habits, behaviors, and beliefs of what smoking does for them. I have helped people that have smoked for more than 40 years stop in just one session of hypnosis by breaking the mind loop of a smoker.

Now, back to pain management. Since hypnosis can help with smoking cessation, weight loss and other “physical” challenges, then it can, and does, work with pain management. I have successfully helped people with pain from surgeries, sports injuries, and even the pain and lesions caused by chemotherapy, all of which are very “physical”. If you would like more information on how hypnosis might benefit you, please contact me.

Set an appointment with me TODAY and change your mind tomorrow!

Edward Lewellen