Hypnosis Might Ease Non-Cardiac Chest Pain

Small British study suggests it alters brain's pain response

THURSDAY, April 20, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Hypnosis may help ease chest pain that's not caused by a heart condition (non-cardiac chest pain), according to a small British study of 28 patients.

While the cause of non-cardiac chest pain is unknown, acid reflux and psychological problems are among several suspected factors. Non-cardiac chest pain is difficult to treat.

Researchers at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester divided the 28 patients randomly divided into two groups. One group received 12 sessions of hypnotherapy over 17 weeks, while the other group received supportive therapy plus a placebo medicine.

Among the 15 people who received hypnotherapy, 80 percent reported significant pain relief, even though there was no change in the frequency of bouts of pain. Three of the 13 people who received supportive therapy and placebo reported significant pain relief.

Patients who received hypnotherapy reported an improved sense of overall well-being. They also reduced their use of painkillers and other medications prescribed to control non-cardiac chest pain. People in the supportive therapy/placebo group actually increased their medication use.

Hypnotherapy had no effect on anxiety or depression, the researchers said.

Previous research found that hypnotherapy affects an area of the brain that processes emotional response to painful stimuli and that it can also reduce levels of gastric acid produced by the stomach.

The study appears in the journal Gut.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about chest pain.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Updated on April 20, 2006

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