Acute pharmacotherapy of migraine, tension-type headache, and cluster headache

Peer Tfelt-Hansen
Journal of Headache and Pain 2007, 8 (2): 127-34
In most migraine patients acute therapy is needed. Migraine can be treated either with specific drugs, the triptans and ergot alkaloids, or with NSAIDs. Triptans are a major step foreward in migraine therapy. The therapeutic gain for headache relief is 50% for subcutaneous sumatriptan whereas it is 30-40% for most oral triptans. After oral triptans sustained pain free is only 30%. There is thus still ample room for improvement of acute therapy in migraine. For tension-type headache there is no specific therapy and it is treated with NSAIDs. Only 17-32% become pain free after these drugs. For attacks of cluster headache oxygen and subcutaneous sumatriptan can be used. Intranasal triptans can be an alternative.

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