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Can biofeedback help ease muscle tension and cramping?

Centuries ago, Eastern mystics used biofeedback techniques as they controlled their skin temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and other involuntary functions through intense concentration. Today, biofeedback is used to teach people how to read and control such body functions as skin temperature, heart rate, and brain waves.
Essentially any bodily process that can be measured can be potentially controlled through biofeedback. It is especially effective in relieving many pain problems as well as anxiety. The main concept of biofeedback centers on the idea that you may not be able to control what goes on around you, but you can learn to alter the way that you respond to it. Biofeedback is "bio" because of biological monitoring; it is "feedback" when information from your body is returned to the source observer.
With biofeedback, you are connected to a machine that informs you and your therapist when you are physically relaxing your body.  With sensors placed over specific muscle sites, the therapist will read the tension in your muscles, heart rate, breathing pattern, the amount of sweat produced or body temperature. Any one or all these readings can let the therapist know if you are learning to relax.
The ultimate goal of biofeedback is to use this newly learned skill outside the therapist's office when you are facing the real lions and tigers of life. If learned successfully, biofeedback can help you control your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, and muscle tension when you are not hooked up to the machine.
It does take time to learn biofeedback and even longer to learn to use this outside the therapist’s office. Some people get results in just three or four sessions. A full treatment varies from twelve to twenty treatments. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.