Skip to content Skip to navigation

Hypnotherapy reduces postoperative opioid use

May 3 2021
Fran Lowry

Hypnotherapy may be an effective way to reduce opioid use in postsurgical settings, new research shows.

In a study of patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty (TKA), those undergoing hypnosis before surgery used fewer opioids postoperatively than their counterparts who did not undergo psychosis, even though pain, length of hospital stay, and complications were similar between the two patient groups.

Results of the randomized controlled study showed patients who receive hypnosis experienced a 24% reduction in postop opioid use vs the non-hypnosis group.

"I'm hoping this intervention gets attention from surgeons and internists, and anesthesiologists as well, as being a viable option for surgical patients [to reduce opioid use]," study investigator Jessie Kittle, MD, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California, told Medscape Medical News.


The findings were presented at the virtual American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) 2021 Annual Meeting.

An Underutilized Therapy?

"I picked a job right out of residency as a surgical pain management hospitalist and would see many people who come in for orthopedic surgery, and it occurred to me that a good 50% of my day was treating opioid-related complications after surgery," said Kittle.

Dr Jessie Kittle

"I was getting consults for low blood pressure, vomiting, constipation that was turning into bowel obstructions, and yet people were also in horrible pain all the time. It occurred to me that there must be other tools that we can use besides opioids," Kittle said.