A Complete Guide on Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback is a non-drug treatment that teaches the patient to manage involuntary body processes such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. Still, many people get confused about biofeedback therapy and perceive the wrong notion as the same.

A biofeedback therapist utilizes painless sensors to measure specific body systems during a biofeedback session. The findings get displayed on a screen, and you will experiment with different ways to alter them. Let’s get into depth and understand it briefly.

What is biofeedback therapy?

You control your body actions when you raise your hand to wave hello to a friend or run to catch the train. In contrast, you have no control over your body’s physiological functions, such as heart rate, skin temperature, and blood pressure involuntarily, and your nervous system controls these physiological functions.

You don’t try speeding up your heartbeat, but it simply speeds up due to the things happening around you or the things you are doing, such as when you’re frightened by something or exercising.

There is a way to gain more control over these generally involuntary functions with a straightforward strategy. Professionals call it biofeedback. Biofeedback is a type of therapy that can assist you with migraine headaches, chronic pain, incontinence, and high blood pressure, among other things.

Biofeedback treatment can help you gain more control over your health by harnessing the power of your mind and being aware of what’s happening inside your body.

How does the therapy work?

The treatment through biofeedback aims to make fine alterations to the body to get the desired effect. It may incorporate relaxation in certain muscles, reducing pain, or even slowing down the heart rate.

The mechanism and mechanism of action of biofeedback are unknown to researchers. They understand that biofeedback promotes relaxation, which can help with various stress-related disorders.

During a biofeedback session, electrodes are placed on your skin, and finger sensors are also an option. The therapist installs these electrodes/sensors, which send impulses to a monitor. The monitor then displays a sound, flash of light, or image representing your heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, perspiration, or muscle activity. Such impulses shown on the monitor are usually visible to the person receiving treatment.

These functions change when you’re stressed. Your heart rate accelerates, your muscles tense up, your blood pressure rises, you begin to sweat, and your breathing becomes more rapid.

On display, you can observe these stress responses as they occur and receive immediate feedback as you attempt to stop them. Pain treatment is usually held in a therapist’s office. However, computer programs allow you to connect the biofeedback sensor to a computer.

The information is shown to the person through flashing lights, visuals, or noises, each corresponding to a different physiological activity. People learn to control body reactions by altering their thoughts, emotions, or conduct. Learning to control one’s body’s actions can help physical and mental well-being.

For example, a person suffering from regular headaches could learn to recognize stiff muscles that cause headaches and relax them to relieve discomfort.

A biofeedback therapist guides you through relaxation exercises to fine-tune to control various body functions. The therapist may adopt a relaxation technique to reduce the brainwaves activated when you have a headache.

Length of session

The length of each session, the number of sessions required, and the sort of biofeedback techniques employed will all depend on the issues getting addressed and how quickly the individual in therapy learns to manage involuntary physiological activities without equipment assistance.

How is biofeedback performed?

Your treatment will occur in an outpatient clinic or a hospital setting. Each biofeedback session is between 30 and 60 minutes long. The steps in biofeedback vary based on the type of biofeedback; however, they usually include the following:

To expose the treatment regions, you may need to remove some clothing. As required, you will get a gown or a sheer for modesty. You will unwind in a comfortable position.

Your biofeedback therapist will place electrodes on your skin that are painless. The electrodes connect to a device that records and relays biological processes and responses. The idea is to change or control bodily functions and reactions through feedback.

Your therapist will lead mental activities. Trial and error can quickly identify the mental conditioning that causes the desired bodily changes. Changing your thoughts, feelings, or behavior are examples of mental activity.

The therapist will teach you mental exercises and relaxation techniques that you can use for at least five to ten minutes daily at home.

Biofeedback Therapy Examples and Purpose

Biofeedback uses relaxation techniques to help people cope with stress. To counteract your body’s response to stressful events, you intentionally manage your breathing, heart rate, and other normally “involuntary” functions.

Biofeedback tends to be most helpful in situations when stress is a significant factor. Treating learning difficulties, eating disorders, bedwetting, and muscle spasms are common examples.

Biofeedback therapy can help with a variety of physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Asthma
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Side effects of chemotherapy
  • High blood pressure
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress or anxiety

Because it is non-invasive and does not rely on drugs, some people prefer biofeedback to treat certain disorders. Others use biofeedback with more standard therapy approaches to improve their general health.

Benefits of therapy

According to recent research, it is unclear how biofeedback for pain works, but it appears to help people with stress-related disorders.

When a person is stressed, internal systems such as blood pressure can become erratic—biofeedback sessions guide in relaxation, and mental exercises, which helps ease discomfort.

●     Migraine

Although studies on their effectiveness have yielded inconclusive results, biofeedback and relaxation techniques are frequently used to treat headaches and migraines.

The therapy reduced the frequency and severity of symptoms in persons with migraine headaches, according to a Japanese study published in 2015.

Other studies, however, observed in 2009 that while relaxation tends to help persons with migraine headaches, combining ease with biofeedback does not appear to provide any extra benefits.

●     Post-traumatic stress disorder

Some types of such therapy may benefit patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to one study, integrating heart-variability biofeedback into traditional PTSD treatment did not improve outcomes.

In 2016, however, researchers discovered that EEG biofeedback “significantly improved PTSD symptoms” in 17 PTSD patients.

●     Raynaud’s disease

Raynaud’s disease causes various body parts to feel numb and chilled in response to cold weather or emotional stress. It is caused by a problem with the blood supply to the skin.

Studies have shown thermal biofeedback to help with Raynaud’s disease symptoms.

According to the Raynaud’s Association, 80 to 90% of Raynaud’s patients observed improved circulation and a lower frequency of symptoms after treatment.

●     Urinary incontinence

People with problems regulating their urge to go to the restroom may benefit from biofeedback. Biofeedback can help you find and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that control bladder emptying.

After many biofeedback sessions, women with incontinence may minimize their urgent need to urinate.

Biofeedback can help children who wet the bed and those with fecal incontinence (the inability to control bowel movements). Biofeedback, unlike medications, is used to cure incontinence and has few side effects.

●     High blood pressure

The evidence for using biofeedback to treat high blood pressure is inconsistent. Although biofeedback appears to have a marginal effect on blood pressure, it is not as effective as medication in controlling blood pressure.

●     Chronic pain

Biofeedback therapy near me may help decrease the discomfort of diseases such as low back pain, abdominal pain, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), and fibromyalgia by assisting you in identifying tense muscles and learning to relax them.

Biofeedback can help people of all ages, from children to the elderly, reduce pain.

Other biofeedback uses include:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • High blood pressure
  • Injury
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Epilepsy

What functions can people learn to control with therapy?

Biofeedback, a mind-body approach, utilizes visual or aural feedback to people to notice physical signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety, such as elevated heart rate, body temperature, and muscle tension.

People can learn ways to relax their minds and bodies and cope better with stress symptoms by using biofeedback to control stress’s physical and psychological effects.

Biofeedback’s purpose is to make minor changes in the body that have the desired effect. It could involve relaxing specific muscles, lowering the heart rate, or lessening pain. Some of the functions that people can learn to control are as follows:

  • Blood flow
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Pain perception

Types of biofeedback therapy

Biofeedback is a technique for measuring and providing feedback on involuntary physiological activities. Some biofeedback therapy examples include:

Electromyography: Electromyography analyzes and displays muscle tension as well as reminders to assist you in relaxing specific muscles.

Neurofeedback: This is a device that measures the activity of the brain waves. It encourages you to adjust to improve your concentration and other mental abilities. EEG Biofeedback, also known as Neurofeedback, gives patients a “window” into their current brainwave activity and can be used to alter aberrant brainwave patterns and reduce anxiety and stress symptoms.

Heart Rate Variability: In patients who receive heart rate variability biofeedback, a device with sensors is used in their ears or fingers or on their wrists, chest, or torso. Heart rate variability biofeedback may benefit various illnesses, including asthma and depression.

Respiratory Biofeedback: Sensor bands are worn around the chest and belly to monitor breathing rates and patterns in respiratory biofeedback. People can learn to control their breathing rates with training, which can benefit them in various scenarios, including when they are anxious.

Galvanic Skin Response: Skin conductance, also known as galvanic skin response, is biofeedback that includes monitoring the quantity of sweat on the skin’s surface. This sort of biofeedback helps monitor emotional arousal levels.

How does the therapy assists patients?

Brain Waves: EEG Biofeedback, also known as Neurofeedback, gives patients a “window” into their current brainwave activity and can be used to alter aberrant brainwave patterns and reduce anxiety and stress symptoms.

Muscle Tension: The therapy can assist patients in relaxing and lessening muscle and ligament discomfort if they have stiff muscles. The autonomic nervous system maintains facial muscle tension.

One can improve autonomic nervous system functioning and reduce stress symptoms by reducing face muscle tension.

Heart Rate: Biofeedback has also helped people achieve a better or stronger heart rate.

Hand Temperature: The sympathetic nervous system (one element of the ANS- autonomic nervous system) gets over-activated as you shift into the fight or flight reaction.

It causes the tiny blood vessels in our arms and hands to contract, limiting blood flow and resulting in cooler hands.

Patients can use treatment/training to determine when this happens and then learn how to raise their hand temperature by relaxing their sympathetic nervous system.

Galvanic Skin Response: The activity of our sweat glands and how it varies due to an emotional response gets referred to as the galvanic skin response.

Indeed, stress and worry can cause this reaction, and biofeedback can help patients recognize and lessen or eliminate this stress side effect.

Why opt for biofeedback?

Like other therapy methods, biofeedback has its benefits and drawbacks. It may not be appropriate for everyone, so weigh the advantages and disadvantages and also refer to biofeedback therapy examples before deciding if it is the best option for you or not.

It is non-invasive

When alternative therapies fail, or patients cannot take specific medications, biofeedback may be an appealing option. Patients may choose biofeedback since it is non-intrusive in situations when other treatments are more invasive or disruptive.

Help you have command of your emotions

Biofeedback teaches people to control their reactions in stressful situations, which can help them feel more in control and better manage stress in their regular lives and anxiety caused by a medical condition.

Complements other treatments

Biofeedback training can also get used as part of a therapeutic plan. Biofeedback is frequently used with other treatments, such as medicine and relaxation techniques.

Would you need other treatments besides biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a supplement to medical care, not a replacement, and Biofeedback commonly gets used in conjunction with other treatments. Someone with chronic pain, for example, might take drugs and learn biofeedback.

Even if biofeedback helps you manage your condition, you should contact a medical healthcare specialist if you have a health problem. Regardless of how beneficial biofeedback is, you must continue to take your prescription drugs.

Myths and facts about biofeedback

Myth #1: There is no available research.

Fact: Neuroscientists worldwide have published hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed journals about neurofeedback and biofeedback. The International Society for Neuronal Regulation is a global organization of neuroscientists dedicated to bettering brain function. Furthermore, neuroscientists worldwide are conducting ongoing research to improve our understanding of biofeedback applications.

Myth #2: Biofeedback is “magic” and has the power to solve all of the world’s problems.

Fact: Biofeedback can be quite effective in many cases, but it is essential to remember that there is a 15-20% non-response rate and that its impact on specific cases (e.g., brain damage, autism, etc.) will be less than that typically seen for a healthy brain with some cognitive/mood issues.

Like many other approaches, it is not as “curative.” In addition to a brain regulation problem, life problems, family issues, and other factors can all play a role in a person’s symptoms. That is why it is critical to treat the whole person from a “bio-psycho-social” perspective, which may include cognitive therapy.

Myth #3: Biofeedback patients “consciously learn” how to control their brainwaves.

Fact: Biofeedback patients do not learn how to control their brain wave activity. The brain learns to control its activity through conditioning and reinforcement, just as a gymnast’s brain learns to keep the person on the balance beam more effectively with practice. The gymnast’s brain is constantly “informed,” about whether it is doing it “correctly” and learns to repeat this. The gymnast’s only thought is that they want to stay on the balance beam.

Myth #4: All biofeedbacks are the same.

Fact: With all the detailed mathematical adjustments that can be made to the protocol, there are infinite ways to perform biofeedback. It is where expertise and sophisticated analysis come into play so that the training is “fitted” to the areas of the brain that require the most assistance. Your biofeedback therapist will not begin treatment until they have completed an evaluation and brain map.

Myth #5: Biofeedback will not be beneficial if the patient does not show progress within four weeks.

Fact: It is true that some people, approximately 40%, respond faster and show development improvements within the first month. However, another 40% of patients respond more gradually and require 8-10 weeks of treatment before determining their expected “training trajectory” and rate of progress. The specialist can use comparison testing to determine the rate and amount of progress.

Myth #6: Biofeedback is an invasive procedure.

Biofeedback is a technique for non-invasive biological conditioning and learning. Certain brain wave rhythms are emulated and copied by the brain and reinforced for production. In this way, it is vastly different, unlike psychiatric methods that deliver a powerful form of electricity to the brain (e.g., ECT, TMS, etc.).

As a result, the training focus of neurofeedback has made it popular among amateur and professional athletes, NASA pilots, Olympic training programs, and other areas of peak performance where brain performance needs to be improved.

Myth #7: Biofeedback and medication are incompatible, and I must choose between the two.

Fact: Biofeedback and medication can improve brain function and, in some cases, can be combined. Following biofeedback, the brain frequently regulates much better. Data from brain mapping can also help us understand which medications the brain may be more sensitive to.

Myth #8: My personality will change due to biofeedback therapy.

Fact: No. Biofeedback does not affect who you are, your thoughts, or your memories. Patients feel freer to be themselves after sessions and aren’t plagued by symptoms like fear, anxiety, impulsivity, or depression.

Patients with autism improve their communication skills. Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and PTSD patients recover from their symptoms or reduce their reliance on medication.

Myth #9: I can consciously learn how to change my brainwaves using biofeedback.

Fact: No. Do not expect to be able to change your brainwaves on command after undergoing biotherapy. Because your brain is doing the learning, you will be unaware of how it is accomplishing its training.

A good example is learning to maintain your balance while riding a bike. There is no specific switch to turn on to learn to balance on two wheels, but your brain learns over time, and one day it is as if balancing on two wheels was a skill you had your entire life.

Myth #10: I can accelerate my biofeedback training by working harder.

Fact: No. The best biofeedback treatment outcomes are when you attend your appointments regularly, ensuring that the training is consistent and sustained. Experts provide an environment in which the patient can relax physically so that their mind can focus on the training program.

Consider biofeedback to be a marathon. It takes time and effort to cultivate good mental habits that will last a lifetime, and there are no shortcuts to achieving comparable or identical results.

To Conclude:

So, now you know what biofeedback therapy is, it will be easier for you to analyze whether going through the treatment will benefit you or not.

If you or someone you care about thinks biofeedback therapy could help, start by asking your primary care physician to recommend a reputable practitioner. It’s also good to check with your health insurance company to determine if your policy covers any such treatment.

One method for gaining more control over your physical responses and habits is biofeedback. Before deciding whether or not this form of training is good for you, consider the potential benefits, dangers, and expenses.

If biofeedback therapy proves effective, it may help you manage your symptoms or lower the quantity of medicine you take. At some point, you will be able to try the biofeedback techniques you learn on your own. However, don’t stop medical treatment for your ailment without consulting your medical team. Get in touch with a biofeedback therapy expert at Advantage medical clinic now.