Effect of EMG biofeedback compared to applied relaxation training with chronic, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorders

Pain. 1995 Nov;63(2):199-206. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(95)00047-V.


This study examined the relative effectiveness of EMG biofeedback, applied relaxation training and a combined procedure in the management of chronic, upper extremity cumulative trauma disorder. Forty-eight patients with a history of about 5-6 years of upper extremity pain were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 treatment conditions, namely applied relaxation training, EMG biofeedback, a combined approach or a wait-list control. Treatments were conducted on an individual basis, twice per week for 4 weeks. Patients in all 3 treatment conditions showed significant short-term reductions in pain and psychopathology in comparison to the wait-list group who showed minimal change. Six-month follow-up data were obtained for patients in the treatment conditions, but not the wait-list group. There was some evidence of relapse on measures of depression, anxiety and pain beliefs for treated patients during the 6-month follow-up period, although measures remained significantly below pre-treatment levels for most outcome indices. Self-monitored pain continued to decrease for the treatment groups through follow-up. Contrary to predictions, however, the strongest short-term treatment benefits were shown by patients receiving applied relaxation training on measures of pain, distress, interference in daily living, depression and anxiety. By 6-month follow-up, differences between treatment groups were no longer evident.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy*
  • Electromyography*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / therapy*
  • Neck
  • Pain
  • Palliative Care*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Shoulder
  • Treatment Outcome