Similar to biofeedback, neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback, helps reduce your fibromyalgia symptoms by changing your brainwave patterns. Helpful for treating many symptoms of fibromyalgia, ranging from depression to chronic pain, neurofeedback can help you eliminate your discomfort due to fibromyalgia.
What is Neurofeedback?
An easy and pain-free form of fibromyalgia treatment, neurofeedback allows a person to “learn” a new way of creating brainwaves. By altering your brainwaves, the negative fibromyalgia symptoms associated with your old brainwave patterns disappear. The main goal of this therapy is to give a person the conscious control to alter their brainwaves.
How is Neurofeedback Performed?
During a neurofeedback training session, electrodes are placed on your scalp and ears. The precise locations for these electrodes will be determined by your neurofeedback practitioner. Once in place, the electrodes will send a signal to a computer, which then translates these signals to reflect your brainwave activity. Your therapist will be able to see your brainwave patterns on one screen while for you, the feedback will be relayed through video, sound, or vibration.
To improve your brainwave patterns, your therapist will instruct you to change the video, sound or vibration by changing your brainwaves. When you change your brainwaves correctly, you are given a “reward,” such as a particular sound or a movement in the video. When the brainwaves are not changed correctly, you will be penalized in some way. Through these cues, your brain is able to learn to create new brainwaves.
What is Neurofeedback Used For?
There are many different disorders and ailments that neurofeedback has been shown to be useful for. The most widely researched is ADD/ADHD, although its use in treating those suffering from seizures, teeth grinding, and cererbral palsy, among other things, has also been examined. Neurofeedbacks role in treating fibromyalgia has also been lightly studied with positive results. But neurofeedback has also been found helpful for treating a number of symptoms of fibromyalgia, including:
- Chronic Pain
- Sleep disorders
- Managing stress
- Chronic headaches
- Short term memory loss
Neurofeedback has also been used for chronic fatigue, although this area has not been as thoroughly researched.
Neurofeedback is often done in a clinical setting. Although the initial appointment may run as long as two hours, as your therapist will need to review your medical and family history, meetings thereafter will likely last between 40 minutes and an hour. Just how often you will need to go for a “training session” will depend on the issue you are seeking help for as well as the results you are hoping for. Anywhere from one to five times a week may be normal.
On average, most people notice a change in their condition within the first 10 classes, although further training will likely be necessary. Total length of the treatment will vary from patient to patient and be dependant on their issue. For example, individuals seeking help for ADD may require 40 or more appointments while those dealing with chronic pain may need less than 20 sessions. You and your neurofeedback trainer will discuss what the right length of treatment is for you, which can usually be determined within the first few sessions.
For those interested, it is possible to get neurofeedback training equipment for home use. These devices usually run off of your home computer or a portable pack. Electrodes may be placed manually or you can purchase a system that includes a helmet containing the electrodes.
Many of the home versions utilize one of the more popular biofeedback training methods: video games. With this method, you are able to move a character or add elements to the game displayed on your computer screen. When the correct brainwave pattern is used, your character may move forward or the game may go faster; use the incorrect brainwave pattern and the game slows, your character moves backwards or nothing happens.
Home versions may require you to go for an initial training session outside of your home or come with detailed instructions on how to use the neurofeedback machines.
Results and Side Effects
Few adverse side effects of neurofeedback have been found when the technique is practiced properly and under professional guidance. As for results, because the brain is effectively being taught a new skill, once this skill is learned and mastered, it can be retained and continuously used. Therefore, it is thought that, in most instances, the results of neurofeedback are permanent.
Costs and Insurance
Depending on where you go for neurofeedback training and the experience of the professional offering the training, one session may cost between $50 and $125. Some insurance providers may cover some of the cost or offer an annual cap on services. In some cases, it may be necessary to provide your insurance with both a diagnosis and prescription from either a doctor or a psychiatrist before you are issued re-imbursement. Medicare also covers neurofeedback in some instances for certain conditions.
Home devices can be pricier, depending on what you purchase. Software may cost as little as $40 while wireless biofeedback devices could cost upwards of $2000 or more. However, if you anticipate using the system frequently, it may be worth the investment.