This technique teaches you to control your body's functions, such as your heart rate and breathing patterns. It can be helpful for a variety of health problems.
Biofeedback is a type of mind-body technique you use to control some of your body's functions, such as your heart rate, breathing patterns and muscle responses. During biofeedback, you're connected to electrical pads that help you get information about your body.
You may not realize it, but when you have pain or are under stress, your body changes. Your heart rate may increase, you may breathe faster, and your muscles tighten. Biofeedback helps you make slight changes in your body, such as relaxing muscles, to help relieve pain or reduce tension. You may be able to decrease your heart rate and breathing, which can make you feel better. Biofeedback can give you the skills to practice new ways to control your body. This can improve a health problem or help make daily activities easier.
Your health care provider might use different kinds of biofeedback depending on your health problems and goals. Biofeedback types include:
You can receive biofeedback training in physical therapy clinics, medical centers and hospitals. A growing number of biofeedback machines and programs are being marketed for home use, including:
Interactive computer programs or mobile devices. Some types of biofeedback machines measure physical changes in your body. Changes in your heart rate and skin are measured with pads attached to your fingers or your ear. The measuring pads plug into your computer.
Using computer pictures and cues, the machines then help you control nervousness by helping you:
Studies show that these types of machines might help in dealing with stress and make you calmer.
Another type of biofeedback treatment involves wearing a headband that tracks your brain activity while you meditate. It uses sounds to let you know when your mind is calm and when it's active. This may help you learn to control your stress. Every time you do this, the information is stored on your computer or mobile device so you can track your progress over time.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a biofeedback machine, Resperate, for decreasing stress and lowering blood pressure. Resperate is a portable electronic machine that helps you have slow, deep breathing.
The FDA doesn't control many biofeedback machines made for home use. Before trying biofeedback therapy at home, talk about the different machines you can use with your health care team to find the best fit.
Be aware that some items might be falsely sold as biofeedback machines. Also, some people who teach biofeedback may not be certified or have enough training to help you.
Biofeedback, sometimes called biofeedback training, helps many physical and mental health problems, including:
Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons:
Biofeedback is generally safe, but it might not be right for everyone. Biofeedback machines might not work on people with some medical problems, such as heartbeat issues or some skin diseases. Be sure to talk with your health care provider first.
It's not hard to start biofeedback.
To find a person who teaches biofeedback, ask your health care provider to recommend someone who has experience treating your problem. Many biofeedback experts are licensed in another area of health care, such as psychology, nursing or physical therapy.
State laws regulating biofeedback teaching vary. Some biofeedback experts choose to become certified to show their extra training and experience in the practice.
Before starting treatment, consider asking the biofeedback expert a few questions, such as:
During biofeedback, a therapist connects electrical pads or sensors to different parts of your body. These pads might be used to:
The pads send information to a nearby screen. The therapist uses that information and makes suggestions to help you control your body's responses. For example, if the pads sense tight muscles that may be causing headaches, you then learn how to relax those muscles.
A typical biofeedback treatment lasts 30 to 60 minutes. How many treatments you have and how long they last depend on your health problem and how quickly you learn to control your body's responses. The goal of biofeedback is to learn to use these methods at home on your own without a machine or sensors.
Insurance companies may not pay for biofeedback.
If biofeedback works for you, it might help your health problem or decrease how much medicine you take. In time, you can practice the biofeedback methods you learn on your own. Don't stop the medical treatment for your problem without talking to your health care provider.