Fibromyalgia is a functional disease, whose aetiology is still unknown, which manifests itself mainly with an augmented diffused sensitivity to pressure, which causes a chronic and generalized pain1,2,3. Along with pain, other symptoms appear: fibromyalgia patients are generally more fatigable than general population, they suffer from poor quality of sleep and muscular rigidity. In other words, they suffer from symptoms that end up limiting their physical activity and social interaction4. This kind of condition characterizes subjects who are usually impaired in functioning, also because of other associated elements such as high stress and preoccupation levels that can generate depressive or anxious states.
Pharmacologic therapy includes the administration of antidepressants or anticonvulsants but these substances mainly act on the quality of sleep and they are effective only on the 30%-50% of the population9,10,11. More generally, these patients tend to use big amounts of medicines4 which, when they constitute the only therapeutical intervention, are substantially ineffective. All these factors lead to a lower quality of life, the enhancement of which must be the fundamental goal in treating such patients.
Despite the fact that fibromyalgia is the main cause of chronic suffering to the skeletal and muscular system13, and despite the promising results of hypnosis in treating pain14,15,16, the exploration of the therapeutic possibilities of this technique to treat this condition has become relevant just in the last 10 years17.
The chronic and incontrollable aspect of this kind of pain makes it the main cause of complaint among fibromyalgia patients4, this is the reason why a team of English researchers decided to verify wether it could be possible to acquire control on it through hypnosis18. Subjects suffering from fibromyalgia, has become able to raise, lower and stabilize pain levels through hypnotic states. These results, as confirmed by previous researches that have found that the effect is greater than the one obtained by physical therapies18,19, are corroborated by the functional magnetic resonance brain analyses, which showed a lower activation of pain neural networks. Furthermore, such effect did not appear in waking subjects who received suggestions that aimed to reduce perceived pain.
In other words, the application of hypnosis enables patients to acquire control on intensity of perceived pain.
Along with pain reduction, hypnosis improves other problematic aspects correlated to fibromyalgia. A research conducted in 200820 demonstrates that the integration of hypnosis sessions in psychotherapeutic regimens, in addition to pain relief, leads to a better improvement of morning fatigue, of general fatigability and of muscular rigidity compared to control groups or to patients in traditional psychotherapies. Results, along with replicating what was already showed in past researches17, are highly stable in time and allow patients to reduce the quantity of medicines that they take18.
In conclusion we can state that hypnosis can bring specific relief to patients who suffer from fibromyalgia. The fact that this technique can alleviate physical (both in terms of pain intensity and quantity of sensitive body parts12) and emotional19 suffering that comes with this condition, has drawn the attention of the group of researchers who has written the German guidelines for the treatment of fibromyalgia and who has decided to include hypnosis among the recommended therapeutic interventions22.
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