The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Self-hypnosis and biofeedback for spinal-cord injury pain

    Dr. Mark Jensen (photo), who is Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle has published a series of studies on this topic.

    Here’s a summary of his most recent research, and an overview of the past 3 years.

    First, the details.

    • 37 adults with spinal-cord injury and chronic pain were randomly assigned to receive 10 sessions of self-hypnosis or EMG biofeedback relaxation training for pain management.
      • EMG biofeedback relaxation involves providing continuous information on the state of tension or pain, with a view to achieving pain control.

    And, the results.

    • Both treatments decreased pain intensity.
    • Only those in the self-hypnosis group reported statistically significant decreases in daily average pain, which were maintained for 3 months.
    • Self-hypnosis was also associated with significant short-term (less than 3 months) improvement in perceived pain control.

    The bottom line?
    In an earlier study, about 20% of 26 patients with chronic pain “obtained substantial and lasting long-term reductions in average daily pain following hypnosis treatment.”

    From a larger perspective, Dr. Jensen reports that among 117 adults with traumatic spinal cord injury and chronic pain, 73% had tried at least 1 of 7 alternative pain treatments. The most frequently tried were massage, marijuana, and acupuncture.

    Greatest relief was provided by massage (6 on a 0-10 relief scale) and marijuana (7 on a 0–10 relief scale).

    Relief from various treatments, including most drugs, tended to last only minutes or hours. However, pain relief from alternative treatments such as massage, acupuncture, and hypnosis was reported to last for days in 25% to 33% of those who tried these treatments.

    Here’s a list of CAM treatments used by these patients. The numbers following the treatment include 1) % that used the treatment, 2) level of relief on a scale of 0-10, and 3) the most commonly reported duration of relief in minutes, hours, etc.

    • Massage: 55%, 6, hours
    • Marijuana: 32%, 7, 80, hours
    • Acupuncture: 28%, 3, hours
    • Chiropractor: 27%, 5, days
    • Biofeedback/relaxation: 23%, 4, hours
    • Magnets: 17%, 2, hours
    • Hypnosis: 9%, 3, days
    • Other: 17%, 6, hours

    5/232/09  13:34 JR

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