Biofeedback therapy is a training program that attempts to teach patients how to control, through both mental and physical, involuntary physiological processes that contribute to painful symptoms. It is a mind-body technique.
It is used in a bid to manage muscle pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. What the majority of these problems have in common is that the symptoms can be exacerbated by stress. It is for this reason that many experts believe biofeedback to be helpful, as it is a means for patients to improve their overall wellbeing. It is a natural technique for stress relief.
A normal biofeedback session involves a trained therapist assessing the condition of the patient and then performing some tests. Specialized equipment is utilized for physiological signs to be converted into meaningful information the patient can understand. Heart rate, muscle tension, brainwave activities and skin temperature are the most frequently used tests. The most common disorder that biofeedback training is used to combat is anxiety. These sessions last between 30 to 60 minutes and typically last up to 3 months. There are patients who continue to participate for years. The goal, however, is for the patients to be able to practice the techniques the therapist has taught them without the sessions or the machines and tests.
Biofeedback therapy has been used for decades by sports trainers and psychologists. The Cleveland Clinic has started a study as to whether this therapy could be of use to those patients with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.
For now, though, those treated are patients with incontinence problems, tension headaches, insomnia, muscle spasms, chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer recovery, autism, ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, IBS, TMJ, heart disease and any other illness that can be made worse by stress.
It is the ideal option for patients who are intolerant to medications, failing to see a response to conventional treatment, women who are breastfeeding, or women who are pregnant.
There are some benefits to biofeedback therapy.
There is a reduction in headaches because it lowers a person’s stress response. This means those with frequent headaches dependent on pain medications can decrease their usage, which in turn helps liver health.
It’s a well-established treatment option for chronic constipation. Up to 80% of patients that underwent biofeedback therapy saw an improvement in their symptoms.
Anxiety is the most frequent illness to be referred for biofeedback training. It is used in conjunction with CBT, and it helps patients become more aware of their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Patients are encouraged to track their symptoms to understand how their body responds to them and makes their anxiety worse.
With the attention on how painkillers are creating severe addiction problems across the US, biofeedback therapy has never been more important in pain management. It is useful in adults and children, can result in a 50% decrease in pain, though it could take as many as 40 sessions to see the benefits.
The reason biofeedback therapy has been used to improve heart health is because insomnia, anxiety, and depression can have an impact on cardiovascular diseases. It makes sense to manage those issues to have a knock on effect of helping other diseases.
Insomnia and ADHD symptoms can also be improved through biofeedback therapy. It treats hyperarousal, which can have an impact on the illnesses mentioned.
By Natasha Lauren