Are you or someone you know suffering from fibromyalgia? If you answered, “yes” then electromyography biofeedback can help reduce or eliminate the pain of fibromyalgia. To help understand what electromyography biofeedback is and how electromyography biofeedback can help fibromyalgia, I have interviewed therapist Lindsay Dougherty.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I currently have a private practice where I work with adults, children, and families. I have used biofeedback as either the primary focus of treatment or in conjunction with psychotherapy for almost twenty years. I treat clients with chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, and pediatric issues such as ADHD, just to name a few.” I am a licensed professional counselor, board certified counselor and internationally certified in biofeedback. Prior to private practice I worked for three years in a chronic pain clinic. There I treated many clients with fibromyalgia.
What is electromyography biofeedback?
“Electromyography (EMG) biofeedback is used to study muscles either at rest or with dynamic movement. This is surface EMG, NOT needle EMG. Which means you place electrodes over the muscle sites you wish to observe. The signal that you see on the computer (most commonly used) is a representation of the muscle activity. It is a reading of the electrical current the nerves send to the muscle to activate it.” This gives us immediate feedback so that you have conscious awareness of the muscle. With this information you are then able to manipulate the muscle for the desired outcome. This can be done several ways ‘” with relaxation, increasing the muscle activity via exercise or stretching to decrease spasm or postural correction. The use of surface EMG for these purposes is sometimes referred to as neuromuscular retraining.
How can electromyography biofeedback help someone with fibromyalgia?
“It can be used to help break poor posturing patterns that developed over time due to pain. Electromyography biofeedback can relax muscle areas that are constantly guarded once again due to pain, general relaxation, appropriate strengthening of muscles that may have weakened due to inactivity. Electromyography biofeedback can help physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapist by giving information about muscle sites that may need special attention (up training or down training), to be aware of what movement patterns to avoid, assist with trigger points and the pain patterns associated with them, and muscle sites that are overly active and need to be calmed down with stretching or other means such as trigger point injections.”
What would a typical electromyography biofeedback session for treating fibromyalgia be like?
“The first session would be to evaluate the areas involved with their pain pattern. I like to assess both movement patterns, postural stances, sitting and standing and common activities such as working at a computer. After that a program would be specifically designed according to the readings taken. They may need strengthening, postural work, dynamic movement retraining, relaxation or a combination of all these. The goal is to have a program completed within 10-12 sessions. However, people who have had long chronic periods of pain have had longer time to establish poor patterns and it is more difficult to break those patterns. I coordinate my clients with other providers to help maximize their results. This makes for a much more effective program for recovery.
Would electromyography biofeedback need to be combined with medication or other forms of therapy in order to maximize the results?
“Yes I believe I covered that above!” it is very important to be sure that when looking for a biofeedback therapist you find someone who is certified. With the use of surface EMG is also much more effective if the therapist has had training in the more dynamic uses of surface EMG biofeedback and what is commonly called neuromuscular retraining not just relaxation therapy.
Thank you Lindsay for doing the interview on how electromyography biofeedback can help fibromyalgia. For more information on Lindsay Dougherty or her work you can check out her website on http://bhtherapy.com/lindsay_wallace_dougherty.htm.
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