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.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Your therapist will first help determine which biofeedback technique is right for you, based on your health issues. During a biofeedback session, electrodes are attached to your skin. Finger sensors can also be used. These electrodes/sensors send signals to a monitor, which displays a sound, flash of light, or image that represents your heart and breathing rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, sweating, or muscle activity.
When you're under stress, these functions change. Your heart rate speeds up, your muscles tighten, your blood pressure rises, you start to sweat, and your breathing quickens. You can see these stress responses as they happen on the monitor, and then get immediate feedback as you try to stop them. Biofeedback sessions are typically done in a therapist's office, but there are computer programs that connect the biofeedback sensor to your own computer.
The therapy is used to help prevent or treat conditions, including migraine headaches, chronic pain, incontinence, and high blood pressure. One of the main ideas behind biofeedback is that, by harnessing the power of your mind and becoming aware of what's going on inside your body, you can gain more control over your health.
Biofeedback is not very cost-effective. There have been no negative side effects reported. However, biofeedback may not be for everyone. You should consult your primary care provider before starting this or any other type of complementary therapy.