Advice alone vs. structured detoxification programmes for medication overuse headache: a prospective, randomized, open-label trial in transformed migraine patients with low medical needs

P Rossi, C Di Lorenzo, J Faroni, F Cesarino, G Nappi
Cephalalgia: An International Journal of Headache 2006, 26 (9): 1097-105
The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of strong advice to withdraw the overused medication with the effectiveness of two structured pharmacological detoxification strategies in a cohort of patients diagnosed with probable migraine overuse headache (MOH) plus migraine and presenting low medical needs. One hundred and twenty patients participated in the study. Exclusion criteria included: previous detoxification treatments, coexistent medical or psychiatric illnesses and overuse of agents containing opioids, benzodiazepines and barbiturates. Group A received only intensive advice to withdraw the overused medication. Group B underwent a standard out-patient detoxification programme (advice+prednisone+preventive treatment). Group C underwent a standard in-patient withdrawal programme (as in group B + fluid replacement and antiemetics). Withdrawal therapy was considered successful if, after 2 months, the patient had reverted to an episodic pattern of headache and to an intake of symptomatic medication on fewer than 10 days/month. We were able to detoxify 75.4% of the whole cohort, 77.5% of patients in group A, 71.7% of patients in group B and 76.9% of those in group C (P>0.05). In patients with migraine plus MOH and low medical needs, effective drug withdrawal may be obtained through the imparting of advice alone.

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