Hypnotherapy may help youngsters cope.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Hypnotherapy may help youngsters cope.

THE QUESTION Hypnosis has been shown to help adults handle various types of pain. Might kids with chronic abdominal pain find similar relief?

THIS STUDY involved 53 children, 8 to 18 years old, who'd had abdominal pain for at least a year. (Irritable bowel syndrome was diagnosed in 22 of them, and 31 had pain for undetermined reasons.) They were randomly assigned to receive hypnotherapy or regular medical care plus supportive therapy.

Hypnotherapy involved six 50-minute sessions over three months, including instruction on self-hypnosis techniques, relaxation and visualization; the children were urged to practice daily. The other group received educational information, dietary advice and pain medication if needed plus six 30-minute sessions of supportive therapy over three months.

When treatments ended, 59 percent of the hypnotherapy group and 12 percent of the others were considered in remission (their pain having dropped by more than 80 percent). A year later, 85 percent of the hypnotherapy group, vs. 25 percent of the others, remained nearly pain-free.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Children with abdominal pain, which can stem from constipation, infection, stress, anxiety or an underlying medical condition. In some cases, the cause of chronic pain is not determined.

CAVEATS The children assessed their own pain levels, using standardized scales. An expectation of benefit from hypnotherapy may have affected the results.

FIND THIS STUDY November issue of Gastroenterology.

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