Pain is not pleasant and while some pain is unavoidable some experiences are made worse by our imagination – like a visit to the dentist or child birth. But can these painful moments be eliminated, as anaesthetic relieves the pain of an operation?
A prime example of this comes with dentistry treatment being an anxious experience for many but UK scientists have found that putting patients in a virtual reality (VR) environment while being treated can reduce anxiety levels.
Researchers from the University of Plymouth said a visit to the dentist’s chair could be as relaxing as ‘walk on the beach’. The researchers said this ‘bottled nature’ approach could help many people get past their fears, reports the BBC.
“Our idea was that if we bring nature into a stressful situation, such as the one in a dentist’s surgery, then that should have a similar benefit as when people are able to go out into nature,” explained co-author Sabine Pahl from the University of Plymouth. “We know about the benefits of the natural environment in psychological and physiological terms – people can feel relaxed and restore their cognitive resources.
“We also know in dentistry there is a high percentage of people with dentist anxiety and their teeth tend to be in a worse state and they tend to miss appointments because they are worried about going to the dentist; and that, of course, has an effect on their teeth. We are trying to intervene in that dental anxiety process,” she added.
However, not all were helped and those who experienced a more urban VR environment in the study did not receive the same benefits.
But, says the National Council for Hypnotherapy, clinical hypnotherapy has been proven on many occasions to help people overcome pain and the anxiety preceding events like a visit to the dentist, or child birth.
The NCH says hypnotherapy is the application of hypnotic techniques in such a way as to bring about therapeutic changes. This is achieved through an external influence – the therapist – who assists in activating the inner resources of the client in order to achieve realistic goals.
When it comes to pain control, hypnotherapy’s worth has been proven in birthing, for example, with hypnosis used as a technique to deal with pain and support birthing labour for many years.
“It can help overcome fear and anxiety around conception, parenting or birth itself. It can reduce stress and anxiety (not just for you, but also for your baby), boost your confidence to be a parent and give mothers a feeling of control so the birth experience is the best it can be,” says the NCH.
Turning to overall pain management, the NCH says: “Hypnotherapy is often highly effective in dealing with pain management. In fact, people often undergo surgery and dental work using hypnosis as an anaesthetic.
“Hypnosis techniques can be taught to you by your therapist to help you manage chronic pain as well as pain post-surgery. It has also been shown to reduce the post-operative recovery time on some surgical procedures.
“Research shows that hypnotherapy works well in particular with children who are undergoing chemotherapy. By using certain visualisations and stories children can be helped to manage their treatment in a gentle, empowering way.”
The dentist involved in the study, Melissa Auvray, said that anything that could help patients was worth investigating.
“Anything that helps you forget about pain is a good thing because if you do not remember something being painful then you are more likely to return, and return regularly, which in turn results in less intervention and treatment.”
To receive clinical hypnotherapy to help you deal with pain, contact an NCH therapist near you by clicking here. It’s not going to hurt!