Two Studies of the Potential Mechanisms of Action in the Thermal Biofeedback Treatment of Vascular Headache




Sixty vascular headache sufferers who underwent a standard protocol treatment of progressive relaxation and thermal biofeedback with autogenic training were studied for changes in hand temperature (the targeted response) and heart rate (a non-targeted response) to determine how such physiological change relates to reduction in headache activity. Overall, regardless of degree of improvement, subjects showed a significant, positive change over time in their ability to increase hand temperature. It was also found that inability to handwarm at session one of thermal biofeedback training was predictive of treatment success, as was the ability to achieve a fingertip temperature of at least 96.0°F at any point in thermal biofeedback training. In addition, it was found that migraine headache sufferers who were treatment successes had significantly lowered their heart rates from pre- to post-treatment assessment.