An Investigation of Three Behavioral Approaches Used in the Treatment of Chronic Muscle Contraction Headaches
Palmer, Michael H.
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The purpose. The purpose of this research was to determine the effectiveness of three behavioral methods (Relaxation Training, Biofeedback, and Systematic Desensitization) of treating muscle contraction headache pain in individual chronic headache patients. Procedure. Nine chronic muscle contraction headache patients were treated with behavioral methods as an adjunct to regular medical treatment at the Mercy Hospital Pain Center. Three subjects received relaxation training, three received biofeedback in addition to relaxation, and three received systematic desensitization in addition to relaxation and biofeedback. Headache intensity of all the subjects was monitored for a week prior to treatment, during treatment and for four weeks following treatment. Follow-up data was compared with baseline data to produce a percentage improvement score for each subject. Findings. Three of these subjects treated with desensitization in addition to other behavioral methods in contrast to one of three subjects receiving relaxation alone or with biofeedback were successfully improved to a sixty percent criterion level. Conclusions. While it can not be concluded with scientific precision, desensitization appears to be a powerful adjunct to regular medical and behavioral treatments of muscle contraction headaches at the Mercy Hospital Pain Center. Recommendations. The use of systematic desensitization as an adjunct to medical and other behavioral treatments should be evaluated as a treatment option. Additional research is recommended to determine the generality of its effectiveness and cost efficiency, both as an adjunct to and in lieu of medical treatments.