Biofeedback For Migraines: How Does It Work?

Biofeedback for migraines: how does it work? Biofeedback machines and biofeedback techniques are proven to reduce pain. Biofeedback for migraines and headache, has been well studied and utilized by psychologists for decades as a psychological method of controlling pain. It involves teaching the brain to achieve a balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) part and the parasympathetic (relaxation, slowness) parts of the nervous system.

Like most headache patients, you probably have some degree of anxiety. Let's face it, who isn't anxious with a headache? Studies indicate up to 85% of all people in chronic pain have some degree of anxiety. You may have noticed that when you go through periods of anxiety, your frequency of headaches increases.

As a result, chronic anxiety can make headaches worse as this heightens your sense of tension. Ask yourself: "How good am I at coping with stress? Do I handle it well, realizing it is a part of life, or do I freak a little and end up having a headache?"

Once the pain starts, the sympathetic system goes into overload and you have increased sweating, muscle tension and higher heart rate.

This is where biofeedback for migraines can help. Through lessons in biofeedback techniques, by learning how to lower heart rate, biofeedback for migraines can decrease body temperature, loosen muscle tension and decrease sweating. This is how you control your pain.

Initially developed in the 1960's, this technique is now accepted in mainstream medicine. There is increasing realization in the medical community that there is a body mind connection and with proper training, this connection can be used.

  • How Biofeedback Technique Is Performed

Biofeedback is not a passive treatment. It requires intensive participation in learning to control such normally involuntary functions that are part of the parasympathetic system.

In the first session, the psychologist will talk to you and find out more about your health history and your headaches. The biofeedback therapist will then apply sensors to various points on the body. The location depends on the problem that needs treatment. When it comes to biofeedback for migraines, sleep problems, and mood disorders, for example, the electrodes are often attached to the scalp. Other possible sites include the hands, feet, or fingers. One of the most common techniques is to first learn to control warming of the hands.

biofeedback for migraines The sensors are connected to a computer,or another piece of monitoring equipment that provides instant neuromuscular biofeedback about the function trying to be controlled, such as the tension in a particular set of involuntary muscles or circulation to a specific part of the body. Some biofeedback machines signal changes graphically on a computer biofeedback display; others beep, buzz, or blink to indicate the strength or level of the function they are targeting.

The therapist will teach you mental or physical exercises that can help affect the headaches. Success is seen by noting any changes in the intensity, volume, or speed of the signals from the machine. Gradually, biofeedback success is found when thoughts and actions result in the desired change in involuntary responses. (Lowered heart rate, etc) The standard recommendation once techniques have been taught, is to practice twice a day for twenty minutes at a time.

Like other meditation techniques such as yoga, biofeedback for migraines definitely serves a purpose and should be part of your headache management. It is also quite sucessful in managing other chronic pain syndromes such as symptoms of fibromyalgia. If you have chronic back pain, or any pain syndrome, this should be part of your regimen for healing yourself. Those who take charge of their pain generally do better than those who do not.

There is a formal biofeedback association. The Association of Applied Psychotherapy and Biofeedback has listings of providers for biofeedback for migraines

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