Fibromyalgia and Hypnosis
Melissa Roth, C.Ht., Ph.D., Alabama Hypnotherapy Center/Melissa Roth Hypnotherapy
Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a frustrating and seldom understood illness. It is a collection of confusing and often contradictory symptoms that come and go and vary in intensity. It’s chief characteristic is widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is also characterized by stiffness, fatigue, mental fogginess and non-restorative sleep. While it is not life threatening, it is life changing.
It can be as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis. 25% of all FMS sufferers become disabled and 36% of all social security disability payments currently go for fibromyalgia. It is a chronic illness with a hefty price tag. It accounts for 10% of all visits to physicians. Yet, there are no effective conventional medical treatments for this chronic illness.
FMS is particularly frustrating because the sufferer appears healthy and normal on the outside but feels miserable on the inside. Eight times more women are affected than men. It strikes all races, all ages, all socio-economic levels and all educational levels. It is often found in the company of other related illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spastic bladder (urinary urge incontinence), chronic fatigue, headaches, migraines, allergies, myofascial pain syndrome, mitral valve prolapse and more.
Traditional treatments aim at improving the quality of sleep and reducing pain using a cocktail of medications. Unfortunately, the side effects of the medications can be as debilitating as the illness. Research confirms that a multi-disciplinary approach that includes cognitative-behavioral therapies, such as hypnosis, provides the greatest relief from symptoms and the best prognosis for a return to more normal levels of functioning. This approach includes improving the quality of sleep, proper nutrition, physical conditioning and deep relaxation combined with positive mental imagery (techniques used in hypnotherapy). By combining therapies, the patient can frequently return to a healthier state and a more active lifestyle while lessening or, in most instances, eliminating the need for medications, especially pain medications. My clients have averaged a 46% reduction in pain medication usage.
In a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, 40 refractory fibromyalgia patients (FMS patients who had failed to relieve their symptoms with traditional medical treatments) were randomly assigned to treatment with either hypnotherapy or physical therapy. The patients in the hypnotherapy group showed significantly better outcomes with respect to pain reduction, fatigue on awakening, sleep patterns and global assessments. In addition, those patients who received hypnotherapy showed a significant improvement in their overall levels of discomfort and were able to reduce their levels of pain medications. The authors concluded that hypnotherapy was effective in relieving the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. This and similar studies corroborate what we have found at Alabama Hypnotherapy Center.
We have been using and teaching hypnotherapy for the relief of FMS symptoms since 1996. Over 96% of FMS patients have shown significant and lasting improvement in their overall symptoms, especially in the areas of pain reduction, improved sleep patterns and increased energy levels. Originally, they were able to reduce or eliminate their pain medication levels between 30% and 100% (average of 46%). Improvements in pain control techniques have allowed over 80% of FMS clients to reduce their dependence on pain medications by a minimum of 50%. All clients have been able to significantly increase their levels of daily functioning. Even more importantly, they have been able to maintain these improvements even after their hypnotherapy sessions end.
I developed this therapy to alleviate my own disabling FMS symptoms. I have been symptom free since 1997 and take no medications for fibromyalgia. You do not have to “learn to live with it.”
This therapy consists of ten to twelve total sessions aimed at normalizing the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. Consider that when you were a newborn your unconscious mind programmed all of your autonomic nervous system functions. It took a few days for you to “learn” to regulate your body temperature and your blood pressure, etc. But, after a few weeks and months your systems were set and your body ran pretty normally until, one day, you hit a pothole in the Road of Life. And, just like when you hit a pothole in the road with your car and it knocks your wheels out of alignment, that pot hole in Life knocked your autonomic nervous system out of its proper alignment. That pothole could have been mental, physical, emotional, spiritual or any combination of those. It could have been a big pothole or a little one that you happened to hit just right. And, just like in your car, the longer there is a misalignment the worse the problems get until you get it realigned.
When your car wheels are misaligned you do not go back looking for the pothole that caused it and then expect that finding it will fix your problems. Instead, you take your car to a mechanic and have the wheels realigned. Similarly, when you have a dysautonomic illness, such as fibromyalgia, you do not want to do regression to cause. Therapists contact me routinely wondering why their client became symptomatic all over again after they regressed them. Doing that simply has the client continue to hit the same pothole again and again. They will never become symptom free that way. Instead, retrain the systems of the autonomic nervous system to function normally again and your client will become and remain symptom free.
For more information on Fibromyalgia or the Fibromyalgia and Hypnosis therapy program go to www.melissaroth.com or call Melissa Roth at 720/445-0271. After healing herself of debilitating IBS and Fibromyalgia in 1996, Melissa Roth founded Alabama Hypnotherapy Center and specialized in medical applications of hypnotherapy. She has recently relocated to Boulder, Colorado and opened a private practice again specializing in medical hypnotherapy. Her Colorado number is 720/445-0271.