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Biofeedback is recognized as an effective additive method for treating certain phenotypes of chronic pelvic pain syndrome and is a therapeutic option in other pelvic pain conditions. This review aims to evaluate evidence from the literature with a focus on the effect of biofeedback on pain reduction, overall symptom relief, physiological parameters and quality of life.
A systematic literature search was conducted using the databases PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library and PEDro from inception to July 2020. Data were tabulated and a narrative synthesis was carried out, since data heterogeneity did not allow a meta-analysis. The PEDro scale and the McMaster Critical Review Form—Quantitative Studies were applied to assess risk of bias.
Out of 651 studies, 37 quantitative studies of primary research evaluating pelvic pain conditions in male and female adults and children were included. They covered biofeedback interventions on anorectal disorders, chronic prostatitis, female chronic pelvic pain conditions, urologic phenotypes in children and adults and a single study on low back pain. For anorectal disorders, several landmark studies demonstrate the efficacy of biofeedback. For other subtypes of chronic pelvic pain conditions there is tentative evidence that biofeedback-assisted training has a positive effect on pain reduction, overall symptoms relief and quality of life. Certain factors have been identified that might be relevant in improving treatment success.
For certain indications, biofeedback has been confirmed to be an effective treatment. For other phenotypes, promising findings should be further investigated in robust and well-designed randomized controlled trials.