Biofeedback: A Powerful Tool for Controlling Pain

L. John Mason

Have you ever used biofeedback? You may not realize what biofeedback is or how beneficial it can be. Most people do not understand that they use biofeedback techniques almost everyday. For example, have you ever used a mirror? A mirror is a common form of biofeedback. You could not do a good job of putting on make up, shaving, combing your hair, or learning how to make a face without the feedback of your reflection from the mirror. This is a simple form of biofeedback. 

Biofeedback is the use of equipment or techniques that can feed back to you information about what is going on inside or outside your body. If you use this information to adjust your activity then you are using biofeedback. Any system in your body that be actually monitored can be controlled! You can learn to control your heart rate, blood pressure, even your perspiration with biofeedback training. 

In the 1970’s biofeedback gained some attention when researchers demonstrated that brainwave activity (electrical activity on the surface of the brain) could be controlled by the process of learning from the feedback given by an EEG (electroencephalograph). In a normal waking state of consciousness, the surface of the brain in a normal person has what is known as a “Beta” rhythm brainwave state which is measured at 13-20+ hertz per second. In a relaxed or meditative state known as “Alpha” the electrical activity is measured at 8-12 hertz per second. This was identified a “quiet mind” or Meditative state that was relaxing for most people. Using the EEG feedback training you can learn to “slow” your brainwaves into the “alpha” state with conscious control. In the 1970’s this triggered an alternative therapy, with people visiting biofeedback brainwave labs to learn to control their brainwaves, and so, their consciousness. 

Since the 1970’s, biofeedback has grown more practical and accepted in traditional medical practices as a way to gain awareness and then control of stress related symptoms. Since 1977 in my private practice, I have had medical referrals, and good success, in working with: Migraine headaches, tension headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, panic/anxiety, chronic neck/back pain, stress related abdominal complaints, irregular heartbeats, poor peripheral circulation, some forms of sexual dysfunction, poor focus, test taking or performance anxiety, some dental complaints like TMJ syndrome, and many other symptoms that are either created or made worse as a response to stress. 

The common forms of biofeedback that I use with medical referrals are: EMG (electromyography) for muscle tension, Temperature training for poor peripheral blood flow, EDR/GSR (electrodermal response/ Galvanic skin response) for controlling sweat gland activity/perspiration, heart rate training, and blood pressure. With a program of regular relaxation training, you can create awareness regarding the way you habitually hold tension and learn to “let go” of this stress. There have been profound results. For example, I had 45 year old registered nurse who had been suffering with migraine headaches for 25 years. These headaches had gotten worse and she reported having up to 3 per week. These headaches were so severe that she was distracted at work and could not focus on the medication that she was giving to her patients. Amazingly, with the use of temperature training biofeedback and the daily use of Autogenic training phrases for relaxation, she was able to prevent most of headaches within 4 weeks of practice. 

Biofeedback training using EMG by physical therapists have offered profound results for people requiring neuro-muscular retraining after suffering a stroke (CVA) or in some cases traumatic injuries to the brain or central nervous system. 

If you have symptoms or complaints that are not well controlled by medication, or if you wish to have an alternative way to control these symptoms without the side effects and expense of medication, discuss the use of biofeedback with your physician and contact a biofeedback therapist in your area to see if this might be worth the investment of your time, energy, and probably your money. Biofeedback offers you the information, and with practice, the control of your body’s habitual response to stress. With your motivation, you can learn to “get back in control.” 

Please remember to take good care of yourself. 

L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of the best selling "Guide to Stress Reduction." Since 1977, he has offered Executive Coaching and Training. Please visit the Stress Education Center's website at De-Stress for articles, free ezine signup, and learn about the stress management CD's that Dr. Mason has developed. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (707) 795-2228. 

If you are looking to promote your training or coaching career, please investigate the Professional Stress Management Training and Certification Program for a secondary source of income or as career path. 

To purchase biofeedback devices including The Avazzia contact Revitalize! Health Spa & Organic Store directly.

Revitalize! Health Spa & Organic Store
311 W Kennewick Ave
Kennewick, WA 99336
Phone: 509-586-6574

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