Acupuncture and clinical hypnosis for facial and head and neck pain: A single crossover comparison

Dominic P. Lu, Gabriel P. Lu, Lawrence Kleinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Despite their long histories, acupuncture and hypnosis have only recently been acknowledged as valuable by the medical establishment in the U.S. Few studies have used rigorous prospective measurement to evaluate the individual or relative merits of hypnosis and acupuncture in specific clinical settings. In this study, 25 patients with various head and neck pain were studied. Each had an initial assessment of their pain, as well as of their attitudes and expectations. All patients received acupuncture, followed by a reassessment of their pain. After a washout period they received another assessment of pain before and after hypnosis therapy. Preferences for therapy were sought following the hypnotic intervention. Both acupuncture and hypnosis were effective at relieving pain under these conditions. The average relief in pain reported was 4.2 units on a ten point scale, with hypnosis reducing pain by a mean of 4.8 units, compared to 3.7 for acupuncture (p = 0.26). Patient characteristics appeared to impact the effectiveness of treatment: patients with acute pain benefited most from acupuncture treatment, whereas patients with psychogenic pain were more likely to benefit from hypnosis. Patients with chronic pain had more variation in their results. Patients who received healing suggestions from a tape during a hypnotic trance benefited more than those who received no such suggestion, and acupuncture patients who were needle phobic benefited less than those who were not fearful of needles. This study demonstrates the benefits of well designed studies of the effectiveness of these alternative modalities. More work is needed to help practitioners identify which patients are most likely to benefit from these complementary therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Hypnosis
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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