If you’ve faced uncertainty in understanding how to treat chronic pain, you are certainly not alone. Studies show that in 2021 alone, approximately 21% of all U.S. adults experienced chronic pain to some extent, while 6.9% experienced high-impact chronic pain (substantially restrictive to daily activities). This debilitating condition can affect all aspects of one’s life and frequently links to various diseases and health conditions such as depression, substance use, and suicide risk. Since alleviating symptoms is of primary concern for those with chronic pain, many feel hopeless in their search for relief.
While many treatments have circulated in the medical field for chronic pain, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Medications often have side effects, procedures are costly with lengthy rehabilitation, and lifestyle changes are easier said than done. However, many have found that biofeedback therapy is a viable option for certain types of chronic pain. At Integrative Healthcare Center, we offer biofeedback to address chronic pain and various associated conditions, such as:
- Stress and anxiety
- Muscle tension
Let’s explore how biofeedback affects the body and mind so you can know how to treat chronic pain and live a healthier life.
What is Biofeedback Therapy?
Biofeedback is a mind-body therapy that involves monitoring usually automatic bodily functions to train a person to control these functions for their betterment. As the name suggests, “bio” refers to the body, while “feedback” refers to relaying critical bodily information to the patient. This alternative approach utilizes monitoring equipment to measure certain functions, allowing patients to learn physiological changes they can incorporate throughout their day based on the results. While these changes may take education and practice, the goal is to have them come as second nature over time.
Some physiological signals that biofeedback therapy measures include, but are not limited to:
- Heart rate
- Muscle activity, movement, and tension
- Skin temperature
- Electrical brain activity
What Makes Biofeedback Different from Other Mindfulness Techniques?
Biofeedback therapy may not be the only strategy allowing you to control your heart rate and other functions since mindfulness techniques like meditation have existed for millennia. However, biofeedback differs due to patients gaining the ability to see these precise measurements before and while making adjustments.
Gaining this insight allows for a smoother integration of these positive changes since you can see progress and highlight specific areas of concern. However, biofeedback aims to control these functions without recurrent measuring and feedback cues.
How to Treat Chronic Pain with Biofeedback Therapy
During a biofeedback session, patients will meet with a practitioner who will assist in measuring these various bodily functions. The practitioner will place painless sensors on your skin to measure physiological signals displayed on a screen. Using these measurements, the practitioner will suggest strategies to change your functioning related to chronic pain. Some suggestions they may relay include:
- Altering breathing – Research shows that breath control can positively impact mental and physical health. Slow and mindful breathing can increase comfort, relaxation, and alertness and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, confusion, and anger.
- Relaxing muscles – Persistent muscle tension due to mental health conditions or chronic pain can be difficult to relieve. Fortunately, biofeedback gives you accurate measurements of muscle activity through an electromyograph (EMG) machine. Your biofeedback technician may suggest changing how you stand, move, or sit to relieve muscle-related pain.
- Using mindfulness – Adjusting your focus and using mindfulness in your daily efforts can slow your heart rate and reduce anxiety stemming from chronic pain.
- Analyzing stress levels – During some biofeedback sessions, the technician may give the patient a math problem or riddle to see how their body responds to stress. Patients can then see how easily they react to challenges and work on remedial methods. Since prolonged stress can bring on chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, targeting this stress at its root can alleviate associated symptoms.
4 Reasons to Consider Biofeedback for Chronic Pain
Below are four remarkable reasons to consider biofeedback therapy as the solution for “how to treat chronic pain.”
1. No Risk Factors – Nearly all studies show that biofeedback poses minimal health risks and complications. It is well-tolerated by most patients and is easy to perform. Biofeedback machines may not work appropriately for individuals with heartbeat complications or skin issues, so these patients should speak with their healthcare providers before seeking treatment.
2. Natural Approach – Traditional pain management often relies on medications that may come with side effects and potential risks, such as dependency or addiction. Biofeedback therapy, in contrast, provides a natural, drug-free approach to pain management. By harnessing the body’s regulatory mechanisms, individuals can experience relief from chronic pain without the potential downsides of pharmaceutical interventions; this makes biofeedback an attractive option for those who prefer holistic and non-invasive solutions to their pain.
3. Customized Treatment – Chronic pain is a complex and highly individualized experience. What works for one person may not be effective for another. Biofeedback therapy recognizes this variability and offers customized treatment plans. During the initial assessment, practitioners evaluate the specific nature of your chronic pain, its triggers, and its impact on your daily life. With this understanding, they design a personalized biofeedback program that targets the root causes of your pain. Whether your pain stems from muscle tension, stress, or another source, biofeedback can address your unique needs, maximizing its effectiveness.
4. Empowerment – One of the most significant advantages of biofeedback therapy is its sense of empowerment. Chronic pain can be overwhelming, leaving individuals helpless and dependent on external interventions. Biofeedback turns the tables by giving you the tools to participate in your pain management actively. As you learn to control physiological functions such as heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension, you gain a sense of agency over your health and well-being. This empowerment can have far-reaching effects beyond pain management, boosting confidence and resilience.
Does Biofeedback Cure Chronic Pain?
The question of whether biofeedback can cure chronic pain is a complex and nuanced one. While biofeedback therapy has shown remarkable success in helping individuals manage and alleviate chronic pain, it is essential to understand that this pain often arises from multifaceted sources. Biofeedback therapy excels in providing individuals with tools to regulate physiological functions that contribute to pain, such as muscle tension, heart rate, and stress levels. It empowers patients to actively participate in their pain management, improving their quality of life.
However, the term “cure” may mislead individuals in the context of chronic pain, as it is a persistent condition that can have various underlying causes. Instead of offering a cure, biofeedback provides a holistic and practical approach to pain management, reducing the frequency and severity of pain episodes. It enhances overall well-being and equips individuals with lifelong skills to navigate the challenges of living with chronic pain. While biofeedback may not cure chronic pain traditionally, it offers a powerful and transformative path toward a more pain-free and fulfilling life.
Learn How to Treat Chronic Pain at Integrative Healthcare Center
Chronic pain is a challenging condition that affects millions of lives, and finding practical, holistic approaches to manage it is paramount. Biofeedback therapy, offered here at Integrative Healthcare Center, emerges as a promising solution.
As you consider your journey to better pain management, we encourage you to explore the possibilities of biofeedback. Our experienced practitioners are dedicated to creating customized treatment plans tailored to your unique needs, helping you regain control over your life and well-being.
Don’t let chronic pain dictate your life any longer. Take the first step towards a pain-free future by contacting us today for a consultation. Call (855) 599-9987 or visit our website.