Biofeedback Therapy for Chronic Pain

Biofeedback is a way for an individual to self-regulate their physiologic response to pain with the help of a feedback system. Patients can receive auditory, visual, or tactile feedback information about how their body is reacting (ie. muscle tension or heart rate). The goal of biofeedback is to give the patient more control over their response to pain. It can be used alone or in combination with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Physical Therapy. Biofeedback can decrease muscle tension, pain, and depression levels.

How does Biofeedback work?

Biofeedback is a mind–body technique in which individuals are connected to sensors that measure bodily actions. The goal is to allow them to develop an awareness of their unhealthy mental patterns and tendencies, and to improve their health by modifying their physical reactions (e.g., breathing rate, heart rate, blood pressure). During biofeedback sessions, individuals are connected to electrical sensors, which measure bodily functions. A monitor is used to display the information which allows the person to make specific changes such as slowing breathing down or relaxing a specific muscle. Goals can be signified by different sounds to allow the participant feedback that they achieved their goal.

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Why is Biofeedback helpful for chronic pain?

Research has shown that self-management techniques have significant importance in the management of chronic pain. Two of the most common examples that biofeedback can target is increased muscle tension or heart rate in response to pain or stress. Allowing someone the ability to self-monitor and self-regulate allows the individual to increase their awareness of their physiological response and also a way to manage this response with immediate feedback. Having some control over one’s response to pain and or stress is especially empowering to someone living with chronic pain.

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