Medication Overuse Headache
While it may seem counterintuitive, migraine drugs and/or analgesics can cause headaches or make them worse. While designed to relieve pain, overuse of drugs (prescription and non-prescription) can actually exacerbate headache. This is referred to as medication overuse, or rebound, headache. Patients taking pain medications from three times a week to daily may find that they need increasing dosages to achieve relief, and that after a while, the medication is less effective and pain-free periods become increasingly shorter. The more drugs you take, the more severe and frequent your headaches are. You need professional help to break this cycle. The expert headache doctors at the Diamond Headache Clinic have years of experience, specialized knowledge and the best resources in the nation for treating patients with this condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Medication Overuse Headache?
Signs that you might be suffering from this condition include:
- Your headaches are becoming more intense, more frequent and more difficult to treat.
- Headache reoccurs 3 – 4 hours after the medication wears off.
- Headaches occur daily or almost daily and last from 6 hours to an entire day.
- You need pain medications more than 2 days a week.
- Migraine prevention drugs are no longer working.
- You require more and stronger pain medications for relief.
- You are in the emergency room or hospital more frequently.
- Headaches resolve or revert to their previous pattern after discontinuing the overused medication for 2 months.
How Is Medication Overuse Headache Diagnosed?
During a thorough examination, your Diamond Headache Clinic doctor assesses your condition and examines your medical history. You will be asked about all the drugs you use, including the dosages and frequency of use. Acute headache medications taken for other conditions can also contribute to your worsening headache condition. Based on your symptoms and drug usage patterns, you may be diagnosed with medication overuse headache.
What Is the Recommended Medication Overuse Headache Treatment?
The key to treating this condition is for patients to discontinue excessive analgesic use. This results in increased pain short-term, but dramatic improvement in the long run. Please note: Never discontinue medication use without medical supervision; stopping some drugs requires tapering off, as their abrupt discontinuation can be dangerous.
The Diamond Headache Clinic understands how difficult the withdrawal process is, so we offer comprehensive inpatient treatment at our facility at Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago. Our inpatient detox program provides medically supervised withdrawal from analgesics to lessen drug dependence. Patients receive the necessary support while stopping these drugs, including psychological counseling to address negative behaviors. We also encourage you to embrace non-drug therapies while an inpatient, including biofeedback and physical and recreational therapy. After successful detox, be sure to follow up with your physician as recommended.