other relaxation therapies such as hypnosis. In the hands of a competent technician, these techniques can be a valuable addition to the standard treatments of exercise and medication.
Biofeedback is most useful for stress-related pain, especially migraines and tension headaches. As reported by the American Pain Society, migraines generally respond best to temperature feedback while tension headaches are best treated with electrical feedback.
A study published in the journal Pain found that a combination of biofeedback and relaxation cut migraine pain by 43 percent. A meta-analysis of 53 studies concluded that biofeedback can be an effective treatment for tension-type headaches, and a review of 55 studies found it to be effective for migraines as well.
There is ample evidence that biofeedback can also ease the pain of chronically sore backs, necks, and shoulders. It may even help relieve some of the most serious and vexing forms of pain.
A small study published in Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback found that biofeedback can reduce phantom limb pain, the difficult-to-treat pain that lingers after an amputation.
A report from the American Cancer Society notes that biofeedback may be able to ease pain and improve the quality of life for some cancer patients.
Not every type of pain responds to biofeedback. The therapy is not recommended for sudden, severe lower back pain and other aches caused by temporary injuries.
How safe is it?
Biofeedback is very safe. Before you get started, though, you should check with your doctor to see if there are other, more direct ways to control your symptoms. You can also ask if he or she thinks biofeedback might be worth a try.
How can I find a biofeedback therapist?
You can search for qualified therapists in your area by visiting Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. Click on “How can I find a practitioner near me” and enter your city, state, and zip code.