Biofeedback in headache: an overview of approaches and evidence

Cleve Clin J Med. 2010 Jul;77 Suppl 3:S72-6. doi: 10.3949/ccjm.77.s3.13.


Biofeedback-related approaches to headache therapy fall into two broad categories: general biofeedback techniques (often augmented by relaxation-based strategies) and methods linked more directly to the pathophysiology underlying headache. The use of general biofeedback-assisted relaxation techniques for headache has been evaluated extensively by expert panels and meta-analyses. Taken together, these reviews indicate that (1) various forms of biofeedback are effective for migraine and tension-type headache; (2) outcomes with biofeedback rival outcomes with medication therapy; (3) combining biofeedback with medication can enhance outcomes; and (4) despite efficacy in many patients, biofeedback fails to bring significant relief to a sizeable number of headache patients. Biofeedback methods that more directly target headache pathophysiology have focused chiefly on migraine. These headache-specific approaches include blood volume pulse biofeedback, which has considerable supportive evidence, and electroencephalographic feedback.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology* / methods
  • Electromyography
  • Headache / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Patient Preference
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome