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Biofeedback is a method that
uses the mind to control a body function that the body normally regulates
automatically, such as skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, or
When you are first
learning biofeedback, you will have sensors attached to your body and to a
monitoring device. This provides instant feedback on a body function (for
example, your skin temperature). The biofeedback therapist will then teach you
physical and mental exercises that can help you control the function. The
results are displayed on the monitor while you learn how to control that
function. The monitor beeps or flashes when you achieve the desired change in
that body function (such as increasing skin temperature or reducing muscle
Two types of biofeedback are:
Learning biofeedback requires several sessions in a
biofeedback lab or other setting. Most people can have success with biofeedback
by the time they complete 12 sessions. Home feedback units are also available.
With practice, many people may be able to learn to influence their muscle
tension or blood flow without the help of the feedback monitor.
People most often
use biofeedback to control problems related to
stress or blood flow, such as headaches,
high blood pressure, and sleep disorders. Using it may
also help control long-term (chronic) pain.
Biofeedback is a safe
procedure. It is most effective when taught by someone well-trained in
The sensors placed on the skin to measure
a body function may irritate your skin.
Always tell your doctor if
you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an
alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be
safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an
Other Works Consulted Andrasik F, Lords AO (2009). Biofeedback. In L Freeman, ed., Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 189–214. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier. Coulter ID, et al. (2002). Biofeedback interventions
for gastrointestinal conditions: A systematic review. Alternative Therapies, 8(3): 76–83. Sudak N, et al. (2006). Migraine headache. In JE
Pizzorno Jr, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd ed., pp. 1907–1923. Edinburgh: Churchill
June 29, 2011
Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & Marc S. Micozzi, MD, PhD - Complementary and Alternative Medicine
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