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Italian Experience of Electromyographic-Biofeedback Treatment of Episodic Common Migraine: Preliminary Results


Licia Grazzi, MD, Headache Center, National Neurological Institute “C. Besta”, Via Caloria, 11, 20133 Milan - Italy



Electromyographic biofeedback is commonly used successfully to treat tension-type headache, while thermal biofeedback is considered the best behavioral therapy for migraine. Ten female patients with episodic common migraine (age 20-35 years, age of disease onset 16.2 ± 5.1 years, illness duration 13.6 ± 10.7 years) were treated by 16 twice-weekly electromyographic biofeedback and relaxation training sessions with breathing exercises. Follow-up sessions were held 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after the end of treatment. A significant decrease in migraine episodes was noted after therapy. More importantly, pain episodes continued to decline up to the last follow-up 12 months later. Electromyographic activity was within the normal range throughout treatment and follow-up, and there was no relationship between electromyographic activity and pain index. It is concluded that the results, particularly after a year's follow-up, are encouraging for the use of this technique to treat migraine. However, the behavioral changes and increased well-being did not correlate with muscular tension. Control of breathing, peripheral temperature and muscle activity are probably important common factors mediating learned ability to influence sympathetic activity; it is probably the latter which leads to reduced pain in migraine patients.