Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

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What It's Used For

Although biofeedback has been used to treat a variety of health problems, there is little scientific evidence that it works for most of them. There are exceptions, however. Multiple studies show that biofeedback may be effective for certain types of urinary incontinence, diabetic fecal incontinence, anal pain related to excessive muscle contractions and constipation caused by problems with the muscles in the anus. Increasingly, biofeedback has been studied in other conditions with positive results. These include Raynaud's phenomenon, tension headache and fibromyalgia.

Despite limited evidence that it works, biofeedback has been used to treat:

  • Chronic pain

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders

  • Digestive disorders, including constipation

  • Incontinence (both urinary and fecal)

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias)

  • Addiction, including to alcohol

  • Epilepsy

  • Paralysis and certain movement disorders

  • Spinal cord injury

  • Sleep disorders

  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

  • Bedwetting (enuresis)

  • Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Panic disorder

  • Anxiety disorder

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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