Biofeedback has proven to be an effective alternative and complementary form of treatment for pain.
But what is biofeedback? What does it look like for those living with Chronic Pain? What specific effects and techniques can help with pain management?
Biofeedback involves a variety of different methods but the primary purpose is to give patients “real-time” feedback on the connections between their behavior and the body’s response, learning ways to alter behavior and improve health. The body’s often unconscious reactions to pain are brought to the level of consciousness so that one can then, purposefully, act to engage and change, in a beneficial manner, the mind-emotion-body’s reactive process.
A self-regulation/mind–body technique, biofeedback teaches individuals how to modify their physiology. It has been shown to improve one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Like physical therapy it is considered “training not a treatment”, and requires, in order to be effective, a patient’s active engagement and regular practice.
“At a practical level, targets can include heart rate, electromyography (EMG) of skeletal muscle, and skin temperature. In the context of chronic pain, these targets are typically processes associated with pain exacerbations or with stress responses that exacerbate pain. For example, a patient might learn to slow their heart rate or ease muscle tension, with instant feedback from a heart rate monitor or EMG. The idea is that eventually they will learn to control these functions alone, without the biofeedback equipment.” ~ PainFocus
A 4-minute short video on chronic pain and biofeedback from the tremendous internet resource Aeon demonstrates one very modern/technology-based use of biofeedback.