Research: ROKICKI and colleagues, D

Listed in Issue 29


ROKICKI and colleagues, Department of Psychology, Ohio University, Athens Georgia USA studied the use of combined relaxation and biofeedback therapy for tension headaches.



Therapeutic mechanisms used included: 1) changes in electromyographic (EMG) activity in frontal and trapezii muscles 2) changes in central pain modulation as measured by duration of the second exteroceptive silent period (ES2) and 3) changes in headache locus of control and self-efficacy. 44 young adults suffering with chronic tension-type headaches were assigned either to 6 relaxation sessions and EMG biofeedback training (n=30) or to an assessment only control group (n=14) requiring 3 assessment sessions. Self-efficacy and locus of control measures were taken prior to and following treatment and ES2 was evaluated at the beginning and end of the first, third and last session. EMG was monitored prior to, during and following training trials.


Relaxation/EMG Biofeedback training reduced headache activity effectively. Compared to the control group who failed to improve on any measure, 51.7% of participants receiving relaxation/ biofeedback therapy achieved at least a 50% reduction in headache activity following treatment. CONCLUSIONS: These results support the hypothesis that cognitive changes underlie the effectiveness of relaxation and biofeedback therapies for young adults suffering tension-type headache.



Rokicki LA et al. Change mechanisms associated with combined relaxation/EMG biofeedback training for chronic tension headache. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 22(1): 21-41. Mar 1997.


Quite a difference in the results of this study to the one prior which used only relaxation and stress management techniques for children. Perhaps the addition of biofeedback therapy is the added strategy which contributed to the success.

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