Feature Archive

Hypnosis for Pain

Can the power of suggestion really help you reduce pain, anxiety, and blood pressure? It just might.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Gary Vogin

For me, cramming in college wasn't about mastering material before an exam. It was about squeezing in my studies before a migraine knocked me flat. When the fuzziness started creeping into my head, I knew it was just a matter of time. Leaning over my chemistry book, I'd race to memorize before the thumping began. Learning chemical reactions was not an option in my darkened bedroom, hammers whacking the inside of my head for days at a time.

What freed me from those hammers was hypnosis, a practice that people have used for medical purposes for more than a century. In the last several decades, researchers have subjected hypnosis to the scrutiny of clinical trials -- and it has passed with flying colors. It's been successfully used to soothe acute and chronic pain stemming from surgery, cancer, kidney stones, back conditions, and invasive medical and dental procedures. Still, many people who might benefit from the technique don't explore it. For some, hypnosis carries a stigma, perhaps because of the "performer" hypnotists, who make people cluck or moo in front of large audiences.