It is not known exactly what causes non-cardiac pain. Several factors such as psychological problems, acid reflux have been implicated. The condition is very difficult to treat, as the cause of the pain is unknown.
Patients with non-cardiac chest pain were recruited for the study. These patients were then divided into two groups on a random basis. While one group received supportive therapy and a placebo (dummy medicine), the other group received 12 hypnotherapy sessions distributed over a period of 17 weeks.
Nearly 15 patients (about 80%) treated by hypnotherapy reported a significant reduction in pain. No change in frequency of bouts of pain was reported. Additionally, hypnotherapy was found to reduce the use of painkillers, other similar drugs and improve the general health status of the study participant. The levels of depression or anxiety however remained similar in both the groups.
Only 3 out of the 13 people treated by supportive therapy and placebo reported pain relief in the control group. Brain scans done on hypnotherapy treated patients have already shown that it affects a specific region of the brain that is associated with processesing emotional content of a painful stimulus. Furthermore, a substantial reduction in levels of gastric acid secreted by the stomach has been noted.
Similar hypnotherapy studies conducted on patients with irritable bowel syndrome have demonstrated that such individuals require far less medication and fewer visits to their doctors in addition to a prolonged sense of well being. The disadvantage associated with widespread use of hypnotherapy is that it is labour intensive and associated with a high treatment cost.