Relieving Fibromyalgia Pain By Use of Suggestion

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by WalterS, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. WalterS

    WalterS New Member

    Using suggestion to relieve fibromyalgia pain shows promise.

    My wife has suffered from fibromyalgia, officially, for eight years. During that time, as well as previous to her diagnosis, she has suffered frequent pain, often severe and debilitating, as well as other typical symptoms, especially fatigue. As is often the case, lab tests, imaging, neurological exams all showed no anatomical or physiological explanations for her condition. In this regard, life has been difficult for her. She has at times experienced minor and very temporary reduction of pain due to enhanced rest, massage, wet heat, and mucous thinners.

    Recently I read a New Yorker article ("The Itch," 6/30/08) by Atul Gawande , where he proposes that bodily sensations such as pain, itching, nausea, fatigue can originate in the brain, rather than somewhere else in the body, as is commonly thought. Possibly because of "malfunctioning sensors," due to sensory misperception ("perception is inference"), Gawande makes a good case for understanding some unexplainable pain as having a central rather than a peripheral origin. I recommend the article as important reading for fibromyalgia sufferers, as well as for victims of similar puzzling disorders.

    I could see from Gawande's article that fibromyalgia may have a mental rather than organic origin. It then occurred to me that the use of suggestion might be of value for bringing relief from fibromyalgia pain. This was a stab in the dark, but what could be lost from considering it, with possibly much to gain? So, my wife and I undertook the following process:

    1. We identified a specific pain (extreme pain in her shoulders), making sure as best we could that it was a fibromyalgia-related pain (sudden onset,
    with no evidence of it having a physical cause, such as from strain, bruise, etc., and that the pain was similar to what my wife normally thought of as connected to her fibromyalgia).

    2. I gave her some general instructions, e.g. to focus on what I would be saying; that is was ok for her mind to wander; to refocus as appropriate; defined necessary and unnecessary body pain.

    3. My wife assumed a relaxed position, and for several minutes I slowly repeated, "You will not give yourself unnecessary pain."

    The results were fairly immediate. She said that her shoulders felt better, but some pain was present. A few hours later we did another session, repeating the "mantra" for 5-10 minutes. She stopped me, as the pain had ended. We later used this process when she had pain in other areas of the body--arms, back, hips, without necessarily focusing on a specific body area. Almost always the pain lessened significantly, or stopped entirely. Pains often returned over time, most often to a lesser extent. My wife says her sleep has been better.

    We later switched to auto-suggestion, and my wife now repeats the mantra to herself ("I will not give myself unnecessary pain."), for 5-10 minutes. Again, pain reduction for the most part occurs quickly, often disappearing, or leaving her with what she calls a "reminder" pain.

    Five weeks after our first attempt, we consider this experiment for reducing fibromyalgia pain to have been very successful. My wife has experienced total pain relief 60% of the time, and significantly reduced pain an additional 30%. Certainly promising.

    In regard to how this process works, I have little idea, except for the general consideration that the cause of the pain is possibly mental, and that the use of suggestion to impact thought and/or feeling may have influenced the malfunctioning sensors that Gawande talked about. But I am open to the probability that the reduction of my wife's pain has been due to any one, or several, unknown factors. What is most important is that it works for her. I expect the use of suggestion to reduce fibromyalgia pain may have value for others as well.

    *edited to remove email address per rules

  2. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I should tell you that it is against board rules to post your email address.

    That said, welcome, and I found your post very interesting.

    I have not read the New Yorker article (I will) but it seems that what it being proposed is that the pain originates in the brain which is as good a theory as any at the moment.

    That is not to say that the pain originates in the mind (mental) but in the brain (organic). This is an important distinction.

    I also find your wife's experience interesting. You seem to be a most supportive and helpful husband.

    Her experience is much like self-hypnosis. Women labouring during childbirth can use self-hypnosis very effectively although the pain is most definitely not mental.

    Something to consider.

    Peace out,

    ETA Not every woman who is trained in self-hypnosis can use it successfully. Your wife may be very skilled at controlling her mind. This might necessitate a paradigm shift in your understanding of what is happening. Far from being someone who has poor control, she may be someone who has excellent control.

    Perhaps she should consider looking into this further. She may be able to teach this to others.

    All the best to you both.
    [This Message was Edited on 09/20/2008]
  3. gapsych

    gapsych New Member

    Most medical professionals now believe that the pain originates in the brain and not necessarily from any damage to the areas affected, although sometimes you can have both.

    However, just because it originates from the brain does not mean it is mental. It is still a physical condition.

    Sometimes situational depression occurs after diagnosis which can lead to clinical depression but you need a health professional to figure this out.

    I find that for me, meditating, hot baths, relaxation techniques, are helpful for the short term but not necessarily for the long term.

    As you said she may be a good canditate for suggestion and it is working.

    However, do not necessarily expect a cure. But this is a good way to help manage the day to day situations we deal with and in this way can help in the long run.

    Because our nervous systems are so out of whack and overloaded like a furnate turned up to ninety degrees, sometimes meds. are recommended to sooth the nervous system. This can make these techniques even more effective.

    Unfortunately, people with FM/CFS have had the stigma of it being a labeled a mental illness. Thank goodness it is coming out that is it a physical illness brought on by some stressor to the body such a accidents, viral infections, extreme stress, etc. It is also possibly inherited.

    You might want to look in the library here for some articles that show FM/CFS is a physical illness.

    Keep us posted.
    [This Message was Edited on 09/20/2008]
  4. tuba

    tuba New Member

    Hi Walter,
    I am glad that your wife is getting some relief from her FM symptoms. 20 yrs. ago, I visited a licensed hypnotherapist to help me better deal with sever pain from a traumatic accident. I worked with her many months to learn techniques to deal with and minimize the severe pain from the accident. So, creative visualization is nothing new. I have a tape I listen to most nights to help me sleep and to guide me through techniques of relaxation & pain reduction. I have FM now, too. Continued luck to your wife in reducing her pain levels.
  5. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    I have now read the most interesting piece in the New Yorker. As I suspected it discussed the complex workings of the brain and not the mind. The brain is a truly fascinating organ.

    Best of luck to you and your wife in the future.

    Peace out,
  6. erinwilburn

    erinwilburn New Member

    thank you for posting the info in the article. It is so nice to hear that you are working so hard to help your wife. My husband has a degree in health promotions/ stress managment. he has worked so hard with me doing relaxation and mantras. something he has just recently been able to add too our mantra is physical touch. as i chant he lightly helps me release my is by no means massage. I feel like the reason this has worked so well with him is because we are deeply conected. for me meditation is deeply spiritual, we pray together before we start and finish with one. that bond between hubby and wife can be so strong. thank you for using the lessons of this horid FM to bring you close. too many times we hear of those who don't last and unsuporting sposes. You are wonderful! keep it going!
  7. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    You might be interested in Googling the following techniques, which are closely related to what you are doing:
    1. Neuro-linguistic programming
    2. The Gupta Programme
    3. Alpha-Stim

    There are several Gupta Programme videos on YouTube.

    I have an alpha-stim 100 CES unit attached to my ear lobes right now, as I'm typing this. My husband gets dramatic relief from his back pain and stiffness by using one for 30 minutes nightly. It takes about 3 weeks to see results for body pain. It changes the electrical balance in your brain, and is proven to balance neurotransmiters as well, improving pain, depression, anxiety and insomnia.

    Fibro is the hardest condition for the alpha-stim to treat, and I use the alpha-stim CES (cranial electrical stimulator) for an hour each day. I've only been using it for 3 1/2 weeks, and it takes at least 8 weeks to get relief from fibro, so I can't vouch for it yet, only for the amazing results my husband is getting. There are several posts on it on this forum, so you can use the search feature to find them.

    I am not convinced this is the answer, but I don't think it can hurt, and I will try anything that won't make me worse.

    The fact that this machine, which delivers a microcurrent, has achieved such pain relief without any conscious mental participation, proves to me that as all the research is showing, fibro pain may come from the brain, but it is physical, and is due to dysregulation of the HPA axis.

    [This Message was Edited on 09/21/2008]
  8. JaneSmith

    JaneSmith New Member

    One night I had terrible pains in my lower back. I took out Dr. Sarno's book about healing back pain and TMS. I took a hot bath and told my brain not to have pain and by the time I got out of the bath, the pain subsided and was almost completely gone. So maybe some of the pains are physcogenic.....I really don't know since FM is a syndrome.
  9. victoria

    victoria New Member

    I worked for a while as a hypnotherapist, some of my clients had pain ... my DH was a psychologist who also used it in his practice as he had many severe chronic pain pts from work related injuries. Despite pain meds being rx'd appropriately, they often still had pain. Hypnosis helped them greatly.

    It's very true that it doesn't necessarily work the same for everyone, or even for the same person every time... I took away a case of poison ivy on my foot literally in 45 minutes... but couldn't deal with labor pain at all. Nothing about either of those about being 'in my head'/psychogenic, either!

    It's definitely worth a try, and at the very least, it really helps the body to relax which is a health-giving state.

    all the best,

  10. sleepyinlalaland

    sleepyinlalaland New Member

    I have read this and it is absolutely riveting (and really horrible, poor woman with a nightmarish itch).

    I have no idea what FMS or CFS or...PAIN, for that matter... REALLY IS. I absolutely believe in those who suffer (myself), but really am intrigued by the brain connection, and the discoveries of Gawande should be of interest to anyone.

    To anyone interested in the article it can be googled with the authors name + ITCH. Regardless of your conclusions, you'll probably be grateful to not be this woman with the chronic head itch (which nearly killed her).
  11. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    Very interesting post, and very interesting New Yorker article. That poor woman with her itch -- I can't imagine. It has made me think about itching in a whole new way ....

    One more thing you might explore with your wife is EFT (emotional freedom technique), which uses tapping on specific acupressure points together with affirmations etc. It's used for emotional issues and all types of physical problems. The technique I think is deceptively simple - you can read about it and download a free manual explaining it at

    There are also several videos demonstrating it on Youtube, although I think it's important to read about it on the emofree website. The actual practice of it can get quite sophisticated.

    The technique was devised by Gary Craig, an engineer trained at Stanford, and has to do with clearing energy blockages.

    Thanks for posting your experience --

  12. Rafiki

    Rafiki New Member

    Mirror trick shows promise as stroke therapy

    Fri Sep 26, 2:21 AM ET

    LONDON (Reuters) - Using a mirror to create the illusion that a person's paralyzed limb moves in tandem with a healthy one appears to speed recovery from stroke, a Japanese researcher said Friday.

    The finding showed the optical illusion works faster than conventional treatment and suggests the mind plays a powerful role in the body's recovery, Kazu Amimoto of Tokyo Metropolitan University told the World Stroke Conference in Vienna.

    "The mental aspect of rehabilitation, has far greater importance than previously understood and should be paid far more attention," Amimoto said in a statement.

    Hemiplegia, a condition in which one half of a person's body is paralyzed, is one of the most common long-term consequences of stroke and one of the biggest challenges for rehabilitation.

    Conventional therapy seeks to restore mobility and movement by concentrating directly on the paralyzed half of the body using physical exercises and stimulation.

    In the new therapy, the researchers placed a mirror on the middle of a person's body so that movements from the healthy limbs made it appear as if the paralyzed arms and legs were moving in similar fashion.

    This optical illusion had a far greater effect stimulating the brain and improving motor function in the paralyzed part of the body, Amimoto said.

    The researchers compared the treatments by measuring the angle at which the foot joint could bend and the time it took people to perform a task with the paralyzed lower limb.

    They found in the study of 14 stroke patients that direct treatment brought a 0.9 degree improvement in the angle of bending and no acceleration of movement while the mirror trick resulted in acceleration in movement of more than 12 percent, Amimoto said.

    (Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Giles Elgood)
  13. Atlanta8

    Atlanta8 New Member

    A treatment we have in the UK, called the Lightning Process. I've not seen it mentioned here so imagine it's just a UK treatment? It's basically what you've been doing, just a bit more refined - stopping any patterns youre in that just 'feed' the pain. Some people recover within days. I was going to do it, but a couple of weeks before I was due to, I heard there was a high relapse rate (this could be after a few months or years, and people end up worse than when they started) - then I talked to the "trainer" and he set a few alarm bells ringing (mainly by claiming this could cure Coliacs!!!!) so I dropped out. I've also heard (this is 2nd hand info) that the guy who set it up calls himself "Doctor" - because he set up a uni and gave himself a phd. The guy he set it up with has been involved in othr "miracle cures" before - they all folded. The other thing is they claim a high (90%) success rate. This is because they pick and choose who they let onto the course - only the ones they know they can brainwash get on.... and so the list goes on.

    That said, it DOES work for some people, I just don't like all the secrecy (you're not allowed to explain to others the contents of the course because then it "won't work") and money making that it's surrounded by (see above).

    The other interesting thing is that the NHS are trialling it as a potential treatment (but then they also trialled CBT/ GET and they got through... *sigh* TRIAL VALCYTE DAMN IT! :p)

    Anyhoo, enough of my bias, this website explains a lot about the course, and may be of some use to you if you wish to get some ideas for your wife

    BTW, I used mirror therapy for a while! I used to have chronic regional pain syndrome afetr a bad sprain in my ankle - they found it to be very effective on that. They also use it for amputees, when their lost limb still "hurts"