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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

When my mother underwent chemotherapy, we spent a lot of time visiting the phlebotomy lab for blood testing. I was always impressed by how easily the phlebotomist was able to find and puncture a vein to draw blood on the first try. I knew there had to be a method to it, and was astounded by how effortless and painless they made the process. It led me to research a lot about blood tests, from drawing to the actual screening. I've created this site to share what I've learned in the hopes of teaching others. The more you understand, the more control you can have over your own health care.



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Testing, Testing 123: Phlebotomy Basics

Using Biofeedback To Treat Chronic Back Pain

by Francisco Arnold

As the leading cause of disability worldwide, back pain is no joke for millions of Americans. In fact, studies show that up to 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their adult lives. Fortunately, there are treatment options available, including some—like biofeedback—that require patients to think outside the box a bit. Read on to learn more about biofeedback and how it can be used to manage chronic back pain. 

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback involves the placement of sensors on a patient's body while a physician or therapist observes the physiological data that's being produced. This approach allows for the testing of various non-drug treatments whose effects can be observed in real-time, helping get at the root of your back pain (and the most effective treatments for your specific condition) as quickly as possible. Biofeedback can also help you learn to listen to your body, making the changes you need to maintain good health going forward.  

Some ways in which biofeedback data may be gathered include: 

  • Skin sensors that measure your sweat gland activity
  • Thermometers to measure your temperature
  • An electrocardiogram to measure your blood flow and heart activity
  • An electromyogram to measure your muscle response (the "twitch rate") 
  • Respiratory gauges to measure your respiratory rate and the amount of carbon dioxide you produce
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure your brain's electrical activity

This, along with verbal cues, can help you and your doctor evaluate when and under what conditions your pain is greatest, which types of treatment are likely to reduce your pain, and what you'll need to do on a regular basis to prevent your pain from recurring. By detecting event he most minute changes in your breathing rate or brain activity, doctors can often pinpoint exactly where the pain begins. 

Can Biofeedback Help You?

If you've tried other pain management methods and haven't found them satisfactory, biofeedback can be a way to help gauge what other treatment options may be best. Often, alternative therapies like chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, meditation, and even cognitive behavioral therapy can provide you with pain relief that begins in the brain. And changing your posture and the way you breathe can also have a small but powerful impact in the way your back feels from day to day. 

Whether you're frustrated with your other pain relief options or are just curious about what back pain treatment options are out there, give biofeedback a try. You may be surprised at what it reveals about your body.