Non-cardiac chest pain is an extremely debilitating condition of uncertain origin which is difficult to treat and consequently has a high psychological morbidity.
Hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective in related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome where its beneficial effects are long lasting.
Professor Peter Whorwell and colleagues from England assessed the efficacy of hypnotherapy in patients with angina-like chest pain.
Coronary angiography was normal and esophageal reflux was not contributory in these patients.
The investigators evaluated 28 patients fulfilling the entry criteria.
The patients were randomized to receive either 12 sessions of hypnotherapy or supportive therapy plus placebo medication over a 17 week period.
The investigative team's primary outcome measure was global assessment of chest pain improvement.
|80% of hypnotherapy patients had global improvement in pain|
Secondary variables were a change in scores for quality of life, pain severity, pain frequency, anxiety, and depression, and any alteration in the use of medication.
The investigators found that 80% of hypnotherapy patients compared with 23% of controls experienced a global improvement in pain.
The improvement in pain was associated with a significantly greater reduction in pain intensity although not frequency.
The team observed that hypnotherapy also resulted in a greater improvement in overall well being in addition to a reduction in medication usage.
There were no differences favouring hypnotherapy with respect to anxiety or depression scores.
Professor Whorwell's team comments, “Hypnotherapy appears to have use in this highly selected group of non-cardiac chest pain patients and warrants further assessment in the broader context of this disorder.”