Medical hypnosis and orthopedic hand surgery: pain perception, postoperative recovery, and therapeutic comfort

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 1999 Apr;47(2):144-61. doi: 10.1080/00207149908410027.


Orthopedic hand-surgery patients experience severe pain postoperatively, yet they must engage in painful exercises and wound care shortly after surgery; poor patient involvement may result in loss of function and disfigurement. This study tested a hypnosis intervention designed to reduce pain perception, enhance postsurgical recovery, and facilitate rehabilitation. Using a quasi-experimental research design, 60 hand-surgery patients received either usual treatment or usual treatment plus hypnosis. After controlling for gender, race, and pretreatment scores, the hypnosis group showed significant decreases in measures of perceived pain intensity (PPI), perceived pain affect (PPA), and state anxiety. In addition, physician's ratings of progress were significantly higher for experimental subjects than for controls, and the experimental group had significantly fewer medical complications. These results suggest that a brief hypnosis intervention may reduce orthopedic hand-surgery patients' postsurgical PPI, PPA, and anxiety; decrease comorbidity; and enhance postsurgical recovery and rehabilitation. However, true experimental research designs with other types of controls must be employed to determine more fully the contribution of hypnosis to improved outcome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Convalescence*
  • Female
  • Hand / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Male
  • Orthopedics
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis*
  • Pain, Postoperative / psychology
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*