Nonmedicinal treatment of pain gains adherents
Alternative therapies such as self-hypnosis offer new
hope for people who suffer from chronic pain
December 17, 1999
Web posted at: 10:13 p.m. EST (0313 GMT)
From Medical Correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Some people who suffer from chronic pain
are putting their medications aside and turning to an
alternative form of treatment. Hypnosis is becoming a popular
option with both patients and doctors.
"Pain management ... more often than not, is not curing pain,
but it's helping people who have chronic pain return to a
more optimal level of functioning," said Alan Lebovitz of the
New York University Medical Center.
Self-hypnosis helps patient
Mehboob Shivji is very aware of how pain is affecting his
life. He has a muscular joint disease that leaves him in
But living on pain medications and with the side effects they
can cause is not acceptable for some patients. So they are
willing to try something else.
CNN's Dr. Steve Salvatore reports on how one patient practices pain management.
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"I do half an hour of self-hypnosis," Shivji said. "And
literally I go from not being able to walk much, to being
completely fine -- very manageable without taking extra
Lebovitz said, "The way I use hypnosis is teaching patients a
relaxation technique. It teaches them to distract themselves
from the pain."
He said, "It doesn't work for everybody. Some people it works
more easily or better with than other people. But most
patients can derive some benefit from hypnosis."
The National Institutes of Health recognizes hypnosis as a
valid alternative therapy for chronic pain.
Shivji says he feels much better after his session, more
relaxed and ready to take on the world.
"When I started this I was a big skeptic, I didn't think it
would help," Shivji said. "The pain was so severe, and I
couldn't take any more medications because I would be too
drowsy with narcotics, so I decided to give this a chance.
"And the effect was very dramatic."
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