Hypnosis and Back Pain

Mechanism of analgesia induced by hypnosis and acupuncture: is there a difference?

Moret V; Forster A; Laverriere MC; Lambert H; Gaillard RC; Bourgeois P; Haynal A; Gemperle M; Buchser E . Mechanism of analgesia induced by hypnosis and acupuncture: is there a difference? Pain (NETHERLANDS) May 1991,45 (2) p135-40

Acupuncture & Hypnosis and Back Pain

Whilst it is now generally accepted that both hypnotherapy and acupuncture can alleviate pain, the precise mechanism that triggers the analgesic response remains unclear for both treatments. It was for this reason that researchers at the Department of Anaesthesiology, Hospital Cantonal Universitaire of Geneva, Switzerland recently investigated and compared the analgesic effect of hypnotherapy with acupuncture.

Experimental pain was induced by a cold pressor test in eight male volunteers. The analgesic effects of hypnosis and acupuncture were assessed before and after double-blind administration of a placebo or naloxone, in a prospective, crossover study.

The results showed that pain intensity was significantly lower with hypnotherapy as compared with acupuncture, and the pain scores did not differ significantly when naloxone or placebo was administered.

The researchers concluded that:

  • Both hypnosis and acupuncture can significantly reduce pain induced by cold pressor tests.
  • Hypnotherapy is more effective than acupuncture,
  • The effects of hypnotherapy and acupuncture are not primarily induced by the opiate endorphin system, and plasmatic levels of beta-endorphins are not significantly affected by either hypnotherapy or acupuncture, nor by naloxone or placebo administration.