Dr. Rajesh Patel, MD.

Ask the Doctor!

December 2010

Special Topic ~ Biofeedback: The Mind-Body Connection

The mental and physical aspects of one's being are not exclusive to one another. Rather, our well-being hinges on our ability to synchronize both of these elements into harmony.

This is the principle behind biofeedback. By mental concentration under the use of specialized equipment, a person can make slight changes in how the body reacts to various stresses or conditions.

Chronic pain, heart problems, high blood pressure, anxiety symptoms and even some side effects of chemotherapy can potentially be managed through biofeedback training. Other possible conditions include asthma, Raynaud's disease, and urinary or bowel disturbances. It can also enhance one's performance in sports and other physical activities.

Because of its capacity to produce such change, biofeedback is gaining recognition as a viable complement (or sometimes even an alternate) to traditional medications that may be less tolerable. The non-invasive nature of this therapy is an added benefit.

A person's electrical impulses are measured through painless body sensors that provide specific data regarding bodily functions (heart rate, temperature, muscle tone, perspiration). This information is then used to gain insight on how to cue your body in the right direction by certain mental adjustments. Relaxation, emotional control, and fixed concentration are adjustments that can help change our physical responses for the better. In turn, one can achieve reductions in adverse symptoms such as pain, anxiety, nausea, headache, breathing problems and so forth.

The goal in this process is to gain enough experience to instinctively adjust oneself without the need for any equipment. Through repeated sessions and patience, a great sense of self-empowerment can be attained by this therapy.

Despite its promising profile and generally safe properties, there are several considerations one should make prior to considering this type of treatment. Time can be a factor as it may be just as effective and efficient to use in another relaxation technique such as meditation or yoga. Cost of treatment can be another issue, since biofeedback is seldom recognized as an appropriate treatment by insurance companies. There are also several individuals and products that may make guarantees toward "curing" a person of disease through biofeedback techniques. Therefore it's essential to do the proper homework on the source of therapy and be wary of inflated claims. And because this modality is not always helpful and can actually exacerbate an existing condition, it is imperative to seek the initial guidance of a physician. Together you will find the best treatment option to fit your individual needs.

Many of our readers who follow Dr. Patel's "Ask The Doctor" column have requested access to previous answers. Therefore, we've created an archive starting with August 2008.


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06.10 - Underlying Bladder Cancer
05.10 - Anxiety Disorders
04.10 - Secondary Liver Cancer
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2009 Answers
2008 Answers

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"Ask the Doctor" Disclaimer: It is not the intention of the above information to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide information for general educational purposes. For specific medical advice, I urge you to consult with your personal physician.

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