Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today's Webinar on Chronic Pain and Special Offer to Blog Followers

Chronic Pain Webinar - March 15, 2012
Thank you to everyone who attended today's webinar on Chronic Pain. We will be sending all participants a link to download the webinar recording as soon as it is processed - probably sometime next week. We would also like to extend special thanks to Dr. Richard Sherman for sharing his expertise. At one point during the webinar, Dr. Sherman talked a bit about the field of biofeedback and the importance of proper training. He also mentioned the need for those working in the field to spread the word about biofeedback and its potential. Next week he'll be doing just that in a second webinar.

Psychophysiological Assessment and Biofeedback Webinar - March 22, 2012
This webinar is ideal for professionals who are new to the field and for members of the general public wanting to learn more about biofeedback. In this presentation, Dr. Sherman will introduce psychophysiology, the study of interrelationships between the mind and the body and a popular technique used in applied psychophysiology: biofeedback. 
On behalf of Dr. Richard Sherman, we would like to invite readers of this blog to attend the presentation as our guests.

Whether you're a follower, or just stopping by, we hope you'll join us online next week. To register, send us a message at If you are a member of a support group for chronic pain sufferers, please feel free to share this information with your group.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Upcoming Webinar on Chronic Pain and Biofeedback

We are pleased to announce announce an upcoming webinar on Chronic Pain in which Dr. Richard Sherman will share his expertise on the topic.

Psychophysiological Assessment of Chronic Pain
Thursday, March 15, 2012
1:00 to 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Dr. Sherman will describe to how psychophysiology provides unique assessment and interventional approaches to pain. He will demonstrate how the use of these diagnostic techniques and interventions permits clinicians to make far more accurate assessments of their pain patients and increase the level of success with many pain disorders than is possible with other techniques.

The cost to attend the Chronic Pain webinar is $69.00 USD and it can be purchased in the BFE online shop. The webinar provides continuing education unites through the American Psychological Association.

We hope to see you there!


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dr Richard Sherman Discusses Headaches and Biofeedback

Migraine and Tension Headaches Can be Treated with Biofeedback Based Behavioral Interventions 

About 4 of 5 of people who have tension and migraine headaches which did not start with trauma can reduce their headache frequency, intensity, and duration by an average of about 80% (with many having no remaining headache activity for at least 10 years) by using biofeedback based behavioral interventions.

Tension Headaches
“Tension” headaches originate from muscles kept too tense for too long anywhere in the head and neck -especially including the jaws. People who have muscle related pain usually cannot tell how tense their painful muscles are as well as people without muscle related pain. The inability to accurately relate actual levels of muscle tension to sensations from the muscles leads to muscles being kept tenser than necessary for longer than necessary given the task at hand. Muscles kept only five percent tenser than necessary for less than a half hour longer than necessary leads to pain which can be sustained for an entire day.

Biofeedback for Tension Headaches
Biofeedback devices record tension in the muscles generating the pain and show those levels to the patient. The patient learns to associate actual levels of tension with sensations from the muscles so muscles are kept appropriately relaxed. Most people learn to recognize their levels of tension and to automatically keep them at appropriate levels. This eliminates or vastly reduces head area pain from this source. People who successfully learn this skill and apply it eliminate or vastly reduce the intensity, duration, and frequency of their tension headaches.

Migraine Headaches
“Migraine” headaches usually begin during adolescence or young adulthood with no obvious initiating incident. They may begin abruptly or gradually and may or may not be related to sexual maturity. These are the type of migraine headaches which can be effectively prevented through behavioral techniques such as biofeedback. Migraine-like headaches which begin with trauma such as an auto accident or which come in clusters usually cannot be effectively treated through behavioral interventions.

Migraines and Blood Flow
Nearly all people with migraine headaches have less near-surface blood flow to the fingers and toes (and sometimes noses) than those who do not have migraine headaches. As all of the heat emanating from the fingers and toes is generated by near surface blood flow, these people tend to have relatively cool extremities. Biofeedback devices can accurately record the temperature of the fingers (or any other body part) and show the temperature to patients so they can learn to recognize and then control finger temperature sufficiently to maintain normal levels of finger temperature. People who can learn this skill and maintain normal levels of fingertip temperature do not get migraine headaches as often or as severely as previously. Many entirely eliminate their headaches. Most also significantly decrease or eliminate their need for migraine medications.

People who do not learn to control their muscle tension or finger blood flow do not change their headache activity.

Evidence Supporting The Effectiveness of Biofeedback
The evidence supporting the effectiveness of biofeedback (frequently used in conjunction with related techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation training) for the treatment of tension and non-traumatic origin migraine headaches is very strong. Numerous controlled studies with reasonably large numbers of patients and long follow-ups (of up to ten years) show that biofeedback is highly efficacious for these types of headaches with about 4 of 5 people showing an average of an 80% reduction in headache activity. The evidence supporting this assertion and the reviews of the peer reviewed literature are summarized below.

Other types of headaches, such as those caused by trigger points and nerve over-reactivity cannot be treated effectively with behavioral interventions.

For information about biofeedback:
To watch a slide show on biofeedback, go to On the home page’s left column, scroll down to “biofeedback info and equipment” then click on “what is biofeedback”. This will lead you to the slide show.

If you are a therapist and would like to find out more about how to treat headaches using behavioral interventions such as biofeedback, please contact us at or look at the courses on the web site

If you have migraine or tension headaches and would like to look into biofeedback based interventions, go to the web site to locate a certified biofeedback practitioner near you.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Craig Adams - His Pain, Their Suffering

This is Part 2 in a series on Craig Adams and his battle with chronic pain.  
Click here to read Part 1.

Craig with his daughter Thalia.
Any professional who has worked with chronic pain patients knows of the challenges this work can bring. Pain cannot be measured on an X-ray or an MRI and each patient experiences pain differently. One thing that is common with all pain patients is the fact that their loved ones suffer as well.

His Pain...
Craig suffered an injury to his right ankle in October of 2003. A suspected rupture in the calcaneofibula ligament, his doctor originally thought it would heal on its own with a couple weeks of rest.  After months of swelling and instability in the joint, Craig underwent surgery in April of 2004. He began physical therapy, but continued to experience swelling and pain. As Craig recalls, "The pain was getting worse and coming up my leg. I have never experienced so much pain in my life. I had excruciating pain all the time now. Daytime it was not so bad but a lot of swelling day and night. At night it was explosive pain as soon as night came on 4,5,6, o’clock. No mater how much medication I had, it did nothing for the pain."

The swelling persisted.
His condition continued to deteriorate and he was eventually prescribed anti-depressants along with his pain medication, but nothing seemed to help. It was even suggested that the pain was all in his head. He still had swelling, burning pain, discoloration of the limb and intense headaches. His physical therapist thought he might have RSD. He continued with his therapy but felt he was on a downward spiral. He began to experience a different type of pain in his head, along with blackouts and the inability to move his right leg or arm. His neurologist suspected that he suffered a stroke.

Eventually, he injured his left leg and knee and in 2005 underwent a second surgery with a different surgeon. That surgeon confirmed the diagnosis of RSD in the right ankle and expressed concern over it spreading to the left side as well. His right ankle required another surgery, but due to the aggressive nature of RSD, he was not a candidate for surgery. Craig was bedridden with severe swelling, in pain from his ankle to his hip, dribbling from the right side of his mouth and unable to control his urine. When he thought he had reached rock bottom and his pain could not get any worse, it progressed to the left side, his back and even his neck.

Their suffering...
It was now 2007. For four years Craig's wife and daughters offered support and helped in any way they could but felt helpless as they watched the husband and father they once knew slip away from them. His youngest daughter Thalia, born in 2006, used to touch his leg and say "Dad sore...sore". Meanwhile, his eldest daughter, Sophie, born in 1996, searched for a way to help her dad with RSD on the internet for days and nights in between her school work. She called to him, "Dad! Get up, get out here, I've found something!" When asked about this moment Craig recalled,
"The pain is unbearable. There’s nothing possible I can do to get away from this pain. I think I’m going to die. I can't, my legs have no feeling, my back...I do not know it any more...I can’t move, I want to get up but I can't! my brain wants to go, but my body can't. I don’t know if I will be here heart is aching and stinging...I double up each time it happen."
It was eleven o'clock at night, and Sophie said she found something and it’s called the International Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation. Sophie called out, "Hey dad! Come here and look at this, there’s other people out there just like you, with same symptoms as you". Sophie went and got her mother to help and Martha said to Craig, “Get up I’m sick of seeing you in bed. I know you're in pain but we’ve got three kids and I’ve been raising them by myself for months. I love you but you have to get up. Sophie’s found something and you have to see this. There’s this bloke Eric Phillips his got RSD and he's in America, you should ring him and talk to him. Now get up! I going to keep hassling you until you get up, so you may as well do it.”  Martha and Sophie ripped the blankets off Craig, got hold of him and pushed him and pulled him around until he got so annoyed that he got up. Altogether, they helped him to the computer.

After four long years, he finally felt there was hope.

In Part 3 of Craig's Story we will learn about how biofeedback and neurofeedback helped control his pain.