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Original Research

Psychophysiologic Therapy for Chronic Headache in Primary Care

Angele V. McGrady, PhD; Frank Andrasik, PhD; Terrence Davies, MD; Sebastian Striefel, PhD; Ian Wickramasekera, PhD; Steven M. Baskin, PhD; Donald B. Penzien, PhD; and Gretchen Tietjen, MD

Published: August 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Background: Headaches account for a high percentage of office visits to primary care physicians, with migraine and tension-type headaches the most common. This article provides a summary of psychophysiologic therapies for migraine and tension-type headache and considers psychosocial factors relevant to headache. Psychophysiologic therapy of headache consists primarily of relaxation and biofeedback.

Method: Representative controlled studies, meta-analysis, and reviews are utilized to assess the efficacy of biofeedback and relaxation for migraine and tension-type headache.

Results: Psychophysiologic therapy comprising biofeedback and relaxation can be provided in standard or limited therapist contact formulas to patients as sole therapy or concurrently with medical therapy. Effectiveness has been demonstrated for thermal biofeedback- and electromyograph biofeedback-assisted relaxation with minimal or no side effects. A typical treatment protocol is offered to exemplify the integration of psychophysiologic therapy into primary care practice.

Conclusion: Psychophysiologic therapy represents an important adjunctive treatment for chronic benign headache that can be incorporated into primary care.

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Volume: 1

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