Prednisone as initial treatment of analgesic-induced daily headache

A V Krymchantowski, J S Barbosa
Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 2000, 20 (2): 107-13
The majority of the patients who seek medical care in tertiary headache centres present with transformed migraine, and convert to daily headache, as a result of excessive intake of symptomatic medications (SM). This study aimed to analyse the possibility of using a short course of oral prednisone for detoxifying patients with chronic daily headache due to medication overuse in an out-patient setting. Four hundred patients with headache occurring more than 28 days per month for longer than 6 months were studied (mean baseline frequency of 0.96). Symptomatic medications were stopped suddenly and prednisone was initiated in tapering doses during 6 days, followed by the introduction of preventive treatment. Withdrawal symptoms and the frequency, intensity and duration of the headache, as well as the consumption of rescue medications, were analysed during the first 16 and 30 days of withdrawal. Eighty-five percent of the patients experienced a reduction in headache frequency and no patients presented severe attacks during the first 6 days. With regard to the following 10 days, 46% of the patients experienced at least 2 days without headache and 58% less intense attacks. Most of the patients noticed attacks with longer duration. After the 30-day period there was a significant decrease in headache frequency (mean 0.83, P<0.001), and no patients returned to overuse of SM. This study demonstrates that it is possible to detoxify patients suffering from rebound headaches, using oral prednisone during the first days of withdrawal, in an out-patient setting.

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