Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control your body's functions, such as your heart rate. With biofeedback, you're connected to electrical sensors that help you receive information (feedback) about your body (bio).
This feedback helps you focus on making subtle changes in your body, such as relaxing certain muscles, to achieve the results you want, such as reducing pain. In essence, biofeedback gives you the power to use your thoughts to control your body, often to improve a health condition or physical performance.
Types of biofeedback
Your therapist might use several different biofeedback methods. Determining the method that's right for you depends on your health problems and goals. Biofeedback methods include:
• Brainwave. This type of method uses scalp sensors to monitor your brain waves using an electroencephalograph (EEG).
• Breathing. During respiratory biofeedback, bands are placed around your abdomen and chest to monitor your breathing pattern and respiration rate.
• Heart rate. This type of biofeedback uses finger or earlobe sensors with a device called a photoplethysmograph or sensors placed on your chest, lower torso or wrists using an electrocardiograph (ECG) to measure your heart rate and heart rate variability.
• Muscle. This method of biofeedback involves placing sensors over your skeletal muscles with an electromyography (EMG) to monitor the electrical activity that causes muscle contraction.
• Sweat glands. Sensors attached around your fingers or on your palm or wrist with an electrodermograph (EDG) measure the activity of your sweat glands and the amount of perspiration on your skin, alerting you to anxiety.
• Temperature. Sensors attached to your fingers or feet measure your blood flow to your skin. Because your temperature often drops when you're under stress, a low reading can prompt you to begin relaxation techniques.
Why it's done
Biofeedback, sometimes called biofeedback training, is used to help manage many physical and mental health issues, including:
• Anxiety or stress
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Chemotherapy side effects
• Chronic pain
• High blood pressure
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Stroke, and more
Biofeedback appeals to people for a variety of reasons:
• It's noninvasive.
• It might reduce or eliminate the need for medications.
• It might be a treatment alternative for those who can't tolerate medications
• It might be an option when medications haven't worked well.
• It might be an alternative to medications for some conditions during pregnancy.
• It helps people take charge of their health