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EMG-Biofeedback Reduction of Tension Headache
A cognitive skills-training approach
John L. Reeves
Posted: September 2006  
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback
Volume 1, Number 2, June, 1976:217-225

Abstract   The biofeedback literature affirms the therapeutic efficacy of EMG-biofeedback-assisted relaxation for the treatment of tension headache. However, this form of therapy has failed to focus on the role of cognitive variables in the control and perception of tension headache. The present case study provides a prototype treatment combining cognitive behavior-modification procedures with EMG-biofeedback training to treat a subject with chronic tension headache. Phase I, baseline, involved collecting mean EMG and daily headache activity, emphasizing specification of environmental stressors. Phase II, cognitive skills-training, focused on:(1) identifying negative self-statements(cognitions) related to stressors, and(2) training the subject to replace negative self-statements with coping self-instructions. This treatment resulted in a 33% headache reduction over baseline, with no concomitant changes in frontalis EMG. Phase III, EMG-biofeedback training, resulted in a 38% reduction in mean EMG level and a 66% reduction in mean headache activity when compared to baseline. The results suggest the importance of attending to cognitive factors in the treatment of tension headache.