Biofeedback-assisted relaxation training for the aging chronic pain patient

Susan J. Middaugh*, S. Elizabeth Woods, William G. Kee, R. Norman Harden, John R. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The older segments of the U.S. population are expanding rapidly and account for a disproportionate amount of health care, including treatment for pain-related musculoskeletal disorders. In a prospective study with objective measures and one-year follow-up, Middaugh et al. (1988) found that older patients (55-78 yr; N=17, 76% success) treated in a multidisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation program enjoyed a success rate equal to that of younger patients (29-48 yr; N=20, 70% success). The current study presents additional data on these two groups of patients to compare their ability to learn the physiological self-regulation skills taught in the biofeedback/relaxation component of the multimodal program. This component included progressive muscle relaxation training, diaphragmatic breathing instruction, and EMG biofeedback. Repeated measures ANOVA showed significant increases in digital skin temperature (peripheral vasodilation) and decreases in respiration rate both within and across training sessions (p values=.04 to .0001) with no differences between age groups (p>.05). EMG measures for the upper trapezius ms in patients with cervical pain showed similar deficits in muscle control at evaluation and similar improvements with biofeedback training for the two age groups. These findings indicate that older pain patients responded well to the biofeedback/relaxation training component of the multimodal pain program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-377
Number of pages17
JournalBiofeedback and Self-Regulation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991


  • aging
  • biofeedback
  • chronic pain
  • relaxation training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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