Monday, November 28, 2011

The BFE Chronic Pain Team

A bit about us...

This blog has been created and is maintained by the Chronic Pain Team sponsored by the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe in order to share knowledge about the use of biofeedback as a safe and effective treatment for pain. To help guide clinicians in how to use EMG (electromyography) biofeedback to treat chronic pain, we've created a software suite that provides clear instruction in SEMG biofeedback and pain management. The suite, based on the methods of Dr. Richard Sherman, is available in the BFE online shop. (The suite is compatible with the Infiniti software platform by Thought Technology.)

We also aim to share our  knowledge with health professionals outside the field of biofeedback who are treating pain patients. Below are a few excerpts from a recent story in the Montreal Gazette. The comments were from Laszlo Bagu, a retired physician and pain sufferer.

"At the centre is the patient. When suffering persists without any apparent hope for relief, it leads to despair. Those who live in despair are isolated from the rest of humanity."

"Therapists who accept the responsibility to help have their authority challenged and their competence questioned, if not mocked, by chronic pain. What was the point of all that training, hard work and sacrifice if, at the end of it all, they are still helpless and frustrated when confronted by the chronic-pain sufferer who keeps coming back begging for relief?"

 "The first step in the right direction is to stop bowing down slavishly to officially sanctioned medical authority as the ultimate source of all answers. I’m a member of this fraternity, so trust me when I tell you that we don’t have all the answers. If only we did."

Although Dr. Bagu does not mention biofeedback, he conveys the challenges faced by physicians and the need to be open minded about treatments that may provide relief to patients. Which brings us to our last goal, and that is to reach out to those suffering from chronic pain and introduce them to the potential of biofeedback as part of their treatment plan.

Breathing and Chronic Pain

The following paragraph from an article on the website of the London Pain Clinic nicely sums up the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing for pain:

"Diaphragmatic breathing has an extremely therapeutic effect on chronic pain. It has a major influence on relaxing the muscles which tense up as a result of pain and in turn further aggravate the pain itself. Experts insist that individuals with tensed muscles and in an anxious state of mind are generally known to breathe through their chest. This type of breathing will lead to a disruption of the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which are essential to be in a relaxed state. It is this state of health that the correct technique of diaphragmatic breathing facilitates."

To help teach proper breathing techniques, the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe offers a breath pacer called EZ-Air Plus. It is a PC compatible software program that places a bargraph or linegraph on your computer that instructs the user to breathe at an optimal pace. For a free 30-day trial, visit their website at http://www.bfe.org/.

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  2. I did my doctoral research on the use of ameliorating pain by controlling autonomic activity through skin conductance biofeedback with very positive results, both in induced pain in volunteers and with anginal patients in conjunction with cardiologists. The angina patients achieved approximately a 30% increase in time on a treadmill until they showed ST abnormalities and also decreased pain meds by approximately 50% (nitroglycerine and beta blockers). The logic behind the training was to view the onset of pain as a signal to relax, thereby decreasing the HRxBP product and thus pain. Emotion plays a very significant role in onset and maintenence of pain.

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