Dealing with the pain associated with cancer is often one of the toughest parts of coping with the disease. Whether you are dealing with pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma, pain will no doubt be part of the equation and often the thing that most interferes with the patient's quality of life and ability to function on a daily basis. For many, addressing this pain is at the forefront of living with the disease.
What is Biofeedback?
Often referred to as mind-body therapy, biofeedback has been around for several generations. Offering another way to treat pain and a viable alternative to taking more pain medication, biofeedback has been used for decades to treat not only chronic pain associated with diseases like mesothelioma cancer, but also to treat addictions, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, and more. It has also been used successfully with many mesothelioma Navy veterans at VA centers throughout the country.
The practitioner involved in the use of biofeedback attempts to teach the patient how to establish a connection between the processes of the mind and body. There are several ways to do this and, hence, are several different biofeedback techniques offered by proponents of this complementary treatment.
The most commonly used form of biofeedback, EMG involves the placement of sensors at pre-determined points on the body, used to measure the levels of muscle tension in various parts of the body. By using the sensors, the patients can learn to detect when they are tense and will soon be able to recognize the signs that tension is on its way. When the patient is able to relieve the tension, they can relieve the problems it causes, including pain.
EEG – also known as neurofeedback – monitors brain waves. As a result, it can be determined how the brain waves link to certain states of mind including deep sleep and relaxation. It is often used for those who are having problems sleeping or are dealing with sleep disorders.
Another way to measure stress and the fact that it is about to appear, temperature biofeedback uses sensors that measure changes in skin temperature. When skin temperature is low, it is likely that stress is on its way. If a patient can learn to recognize this change, he can, therefore, avoid stress.
Galvanic Skin Response Training
By measuring the amount of perspiration on the skin and sweat gland activity, this type of biofeedback is most often used to measure stress or anxiety among those who have anxiety disorder, which is often a problem for those dealing with an asbestos cancer diagnosis.
Finding a Biofeedback Practitioner
Because biofeedback has been around for awhile, it is often easier to find practitioners that are well-versed in this complementary therapy than other pain and stress relief therapies that are new on the scene. Many hospitals, including most major cancer centers, offer biofeedback services for their patients.
The advantages of learning biofeedback techniques is that once the patient is able to recognize the signs of stress and the precursors of pain, he or she can work to alleviate that tension without the help of the practitioner. That makes this a very cost-effective therapy that can be practiced at home whenever needed.
Most techniques can be learned in 10-12 therapy sessions, which may or may not be covered by the patient's insurance carrier. Though biofeedback will probably not improve a mesothelioma prognosis, it may certainly improve overall quality of life, even in the later stages of the disease.
Biofeedback Certification Institute of America
The Mayo Clinic
EEG Biofeedback Info,