What if you could lessen your chronic pain, simply by relaxing? It might sound to good to be true, but that’s the process behind biofeedback. Biofeedback uses electrical sensors to give you information (feedback) about your body (bio). It can be used for a variety of ailments, including chronic pain, anxiety and asthma.
There are several types of biofeedback techniques a therapist can use to treat you. Electromyography (EMG) gives you information about your body’s muscle tension. Temperature (thermal) measures skin temperature. Body temperature often drops when you’re under stress. Galvanic skin response training measures the activity of your sweat glands, which can indicate anxiety. Finally, heart rate variability measures the time in between heartbeats. Researchers have found a significant link between reduced heart rate variability and stress, pain and worry.
During a biofeedback session, a therapist will attach sensors to different parts of your body. The sensors monitor your body’s physiological state and send back signals, usually a beeping noise or a flashing light. This can help you recognize the cause of your stress or pain and teach you the proper techniques to control your physical responses.
In 2011, Richard Gevirtz, professor of psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University stated, “We started using biofeedback techniques about 20 years ago with clinical equipment that measures heart rate and respiration as a feedback modality. We had patients try to maximize the valleys and peaks of their heart rate using a slow breathing technique. We used biofeedback clinically with disorders that we thought were stress-related — like headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia and pain — and we have had some remarkable successes.” (source)
Each biofeedback session lasts between 30 – 60 minutes and is noninvasive. The number of sessions you need would depend on the severity of your pain and how quickly you learn to control your responses. The ultimate goal is for patients to feel comfortable practicing relaxation techniques at home.
If you’re looking for a noninvasive way to treat your chronic pain, biofeedback could be the answer. The Washington Center for Pain Management can connect you with a qualified biofeedback therapist. Schedule an appointment today and stop suffering through chronic pain.