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December 2022

The role of music and relaxation in treating persons with migraine and tension headache disorders

Abstract: There is a lack of research to indicate the most effective non-drug treatment for migraine and tension headache disorders. One purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of music and progressive muscle relaxation, both alone and in combination, on the mood, skin temperature and muscle tension of migraine and tension headache sufferers. A second purpose was to determine changes in the frequency and severity of headaches over a five-week treatment period. 46 Subjects participated in this study, 32 females and 14 males, consisting of students, faculty, and staff from Southern Methodist University and the community of Dallas, TX. Ages ranged from 16 to 48. Only those subjects who experienced frequent migraine and/or tension headaches were allowed to participate in this study. Subjects were assigned to one of three treatment groups: 1) music only, 2) progressive muscle relaxation instructions only, and 3) music with progressive muscle relaxation instructions. During the first (session 1) and final session (10), pre-session and post-session scores were recorded for all groups for the following measures: skin temperature, electromyography, positive affect, and negative affect. Sessions 2-9 were completed in the subjects' home environment as part of a home-based treatment program ove a five-week period. Subjects were expected to record the frequency and severity of headaches experienced during this time. Results of the data analysis indicated no significant group differences in any of the measures; therefore, all treatments were effectively the same. Skin temperature increased significantly from pre-session to post-session, with the skin temperature changes in session 10 being significantly higher than those of session 1. Overall changes in EMG scores were not significant due to differences in the two sessions: an insignificant decrease in scores during session 1 and a significant increase in scores during session 10. Positive and negative affect decreased significantly from pre-test to post-test over both sessions. Headache frequency decreased significantly beginning in week 4 and headache severity decreased significantly in week 5. That all treatments were effectively the same in decreasing frequency and severity of headaches suggests that experiences which induce higher relaxed states offer effective treatment for headachedisorders.

Keyword(s): Migraine, tension-headache, relaxation.

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