Let’s face it. It’s about time I wrote specifically about Fibromyalgia.
Its been hovering around the edges of my posts for some time and there are quite a few people following this blog who suffer.
According to NHS Choices in UK;
Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.
Depending on who you talk to and which research you read, the debate is wide open about whether Fibromyalgia is a condition which causes pain or whether it is a syndrome which describes the pain but the cause is unknown. There is apparently no definitively accepted test for it. It is often a diagnosis of last resort when all others have been eliminated.
Needless to say being diagnosed with this condition can be pretty traumatic. Because Fibro is defined as a long term chronic pain condition affecting the whole body the diagnosis can feel like a life sentence. With no remission or time off for good behaviour. Not even the itself pain is consistent. As a neuropathic condition, the sensations can turn up as anything from uncomfortable tingles to serious aches, cramping muscles, burning or stabbing pains; You know, pretty much anything that’s unpleasant.
From a hypnotherapy point of view, Fibromyalgia is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Because of the way Fibromyalgia is defined, by accepting the diagnosis, you also implicitly have to accept that the pain will not go away. So in essence, if you have Fibromyalgia, then you expect it to last for a long time, that it will be painful, that it will affect the whole body and that nobody knows what it is or how to fix it. You are also tacitly accepting that the medical and pharmaceutical profession/industry have nothing which can relieve it. If they did, then you wouldn’t be told you’re going to face long term pain, you’d be given the treatment to cure it.
In asking you to accept a Fibromyalgia diagnosis, the medical community are asking you to accept their unpleasant truth. It won’t get better, it won’t go away and nothing can cure it. That’s a big ask.
So, if you do have Fibromyalgia, what can you do about it? This is where Cognitive Hypnotherapy can step up to the mark.
If pain is an alarm (which it is) and that alarm can misfire (which it can) then being put in a position where you expect continuing pain, the alarm cannot reset itself because there is nothing to reset it to. All pain you feel is expected, and all you expect to feel is pain. It is an exceptionally vicious circle.
For my part, I seek to re-open that door between the mind and body. A door which in many philosophies doesn’t even exist. It is a western invention. It is perhaps time to re-engage the connections. At least allow for the possibility that the mind has substantial influence over the body and vice versa.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy carries with it some amazingly powerful techniques.
Hypnotherapy can be and is used as anaesthesia, removing acute pain completely or reducing it to easily tolerated levels. Patients have been operated on with only hypnosis as the anaesthetic. click here for just one example…
Anaesthetic hypnosis is sometimes used for chronic pain but in my opinion is not ideal. As pain is an absolutely vital protection alarm, it is essential it isn’t switched off except in controlled circumstances when that safety function is taken on by someone else (the surgical team, for example).
Treating conditions like Fibromyalgia with hypnotherapy requires more subtlety and takes a little longer. In essence the techniques, gradually educate your unconscious mind, (that part of ‘you’ which drives almost 90% of what you do), to recognise that you are increasingly safe. In turn this leads to less and less need to be warned of potential damage (the function of pain) which in turn leads to less and less pain.
Often these techniques have beneficial side-effects. For example, many users of my hypnotherapy mp3 report that they also get immediate pain relief or that the recording is extremely relaxing even though this is not what is primarily going on.
So as a final point, I would encourage anyone who is diagnosed with a long term pain condition: by all means, accept the diagnosis but you don’t have to accept the prognosis as well. The condition you experience can progress differently for you than it does for others. Your doctor’s expectations might be wrong. Search out and find your own path.
And if you’d like me to join you for part of your journey, you only have to ask.
Hypnosurgery Live : Live TV broadcast in the UK (YouTube video)
Tony Burkinshaw Cognitive Hypnotherapy website: tonyburkinshaw.co.uk
To purchase a Pain Management mp3 click here
I’m so pleased you like it. Fibro is a really difficult subject and deserves to be treated well.
I always love to hear about alternatives to Western Medicine. Such a great example – I mean if Western Medicine physicians cannot tell us the cause, i’m sorry but it stands to reason they may not have all the answers about what alleviates it either. And thank you for contributing the piece about how we don’t want to turn off the “alarm” system completely. SO IMPORTANT. so many of my clients dx-ed with fibro are Rx-ed some cocktail of pain meds, opiates, benzos, etc. It blunts them completely and does so much more harm than good.
I so agree with you. I’ll get back to you later; don’t have the time right now… am going through a tough period with my son, who’s OCD has aggravated extremely and we are looking for solutions (he is 24 and still living with me) because the situation has become near unbearable…. Heila
It’s good to hear from you again. Take whatever time you need, your son’s condition is very tricky to deal with. In many ways a key aspect is to make sure you take sufficient time to recharge yourself (which is very difficult to actually do).
I love your blog and was very surprised when I saw today that I’m not already following it – I was sure that I was!
I wish you and yours all the best for your future
i’m so sorry I didn’t see the reply to this originally. I didn’t realize it sent me email to a different folder ! what are some of the new solutions you were referring to regarding your son? I work with families and individuals struggling with a variety of mental illness every single day. I would love to offer some support and feedback.
It’s ok Miss Fit, happens to me all the time. 🙂
Thanks so much for your kind words. May I ask, are you a social worker?
Miss Fit, may I call you Marie? I just read your profile. You studied psychology, cool!
Interesting post. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (finally!!) over 10 years ago. I recognize what you say about prognosis – I talked about it endlessly until I realized that by doing this I was making it a permanent part of my life. I needed to acknowledge it, learn to manage it, then let it go instead of identifying with it so completely. A brief period of cognitive behavioural therapy helped me to see how certain personality traits aggravated it. But remembering to live in the now, mindfulness, is ultimately the greatest help.
thanks for taking the time to comment. It still surprises me just how long it takes for people to get the diagnosis, although I suppose really I should be used to it.
Another key to getting past any ‘chronic’ pain diagnosis is to address the high alert state that the body’s pain mechanisms have set themselves to. CBT can be useful for some to ‘see how personality traits’ (as you said) can affect it but doesn’t actually effect any changes.
What I do with Cognitive Hypnotherapy is find the means to manipulate how the unconscious is operating and the underlying reasons for it setting the pain alarm to such a high sensitivity.
I’d recommend taking a look at my Relief for Chronic Pain Conditions mp3 and/or the Relief from Breakthrough Pain mp3 on my website. They are specifically designed for long term pain conditions to help the unconscious begin to realise that it doesn’t need to have that alarm set quite so high.
Please feel free to ask anything. I wish you all the best,
Very informative and helpful! Great post!
I’m really pleaded you liked it. Thanks for reading.
Wishing you all the best
You’re welcome. And thank you. I learn a lot from this post. All the best to you and yours!
Excellent article, gentle and realistic at the same time
Thanks so much for taking the time to read & leave a comment. It means a lot coming from you.
I wish you a fabulous 2014,
All the best
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Great post. If they do diagnose me with FM, I wouldn’t see it as doom and gloom. I’d be pleased to know that it wasn’t all in the mind, and can take some pressure off of me as I’m pretty stoical and don’t have any other terms of reference ! As a rule I don’t like taking painkillers, but would be open minded to try relaxation techniques and not be so hard on myself. I tried hypnotherapy once for anxiety, but I probably needed more sessions (cost being a factor). I did attend some group meditation classes a few years ago, and they helped me to totally chill out 🙂
thanks for your comment. Fibro really isn’t in the mind – the pain is very real.
That said, as neuropathy theory evolves, it is becoming much clearer that pain is an alarm triggered by the brain rather than there being actual ‘pain nerves’.
Whilst relaxation can definitely be helpful, there is much more that can be achieved with hypnotherapy. The techniques I use are designed to help the ‘unconscious’ part of your mind to re-frame the context in which it makes its ‘pain alarm’ decisions.
This can help to drastically reduce the severity and frequency of the alarm trigger, often removing it altogether.
Because the cost of hypnotherapy is sometimes an issue, I designed two mp3s specifically for chronic pain conditions. They are only 10 minutes long and need to be listened to once a day as the effect builds with time.
If you’re interested, they’re on my website.
I’d be really interested in your diagnosis when you get it, (only if you’re happy to share it of course).
I wish you all the best