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Using Neurofeedback for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

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Imagine waking up every day of your life in so much pain that the only thing you can think of is a scalding hot shower and the pills that your doctor has you on to relieve the pain so that you can get through another day of misery. This is the life of the person who suffers from fibromyalgia. Many move through their existence not sure if they can take another day of either the endless pain or the drugs that leave them pain free but unable to function. A new therapy called neurofeedback, however, has been successful in alleviating such symptoms for many fibromyalgia sufferers.

Too Tired to Care

Dr. Mark Loveless, head of the AIDS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Clinic at Oregon Health Sciences University, in 1995 testimony at a congressional briefing, noted that a "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patient feels effectively the same every day as an AIDS patient feels two months before death."

Chronic fatigue syndrome, or CFS, can create a sense of despair in those who have struggled with it for years. If you have CFS, you may spend every waking moment so utterly exhausted that all you can manage to do in a day are the essentials required to keep yourself alive, and you just look forward to going to bed at the end of the day. This condition, however, is another area where using neurofeedback treatment may make a significant difference.

One of the worst things about these disorders is the fact that many doctors, having completed a physical exam and found nothing wrong, simply tell their patients that it's all in their head, and simply keep them full of medications so they can get through the day. For those with fibromyalgia, the pain can be so severe that only heavy-duty painkillers such as Vicodin or morphine-based drugs are necessary to help the patient lead a semi normal life.

The Alternative

While neurofeedback therapy has still not received the amount of mainstream and media attention that many other therapies have, studies have shown that when used side by side with either EMG or myofascial/cranioscral therapy, seven out of ten patients were able to enjoy complete and total remission of all of their symptoms. That is correct--one hundred percent remission off all symptoms; this means being able to finally enjoy life again both pain and drug free.

These results are not surprising to neurofeedback therapists. Many therapists have found that a large percentage of their patients with either fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome have suffered some form of head injury during their lifetime. Once the brain has been injured, it can become difficult for it to transition smoothly from one brainwave frequency to the next. This means that the brain is essentially "stuck in gear." If that gear happens to be one of fear or stress the patient is likely to end up feeling constantly exhausted; if it is stuck in the pain mode, as in the case of injury, fibromyalgia may result.

By far one of the most effective methods of getting the brainwaves back under control and help to shift the brain out of the patterns in which it is trapped, is neurofeedback therapy because it teaches the patient how take control of their brainwaves and manipulate them to achieve complete relaxation.


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Dr. Clare Albright is a psychologist and neurofeedback practitioner in Orange County, CA. She is the author of, "Neurofeedback: Tranforming Your Life with Brain Biofeedback" Dr. Albright has been counseling in Orange County for over 26 years.

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