The Many Faces of Medication‐Overuse Headache in Clinical Practice


The management of medication‐overuse headache (MOH) is multifaceted and headache experts have different views on the optimal strategy to tackle this type of secondary headache. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the literature on the management of MOH, and to highlight important considerations in the clinical evaluation of the MOH patient.

Managing MOH in clinical practice starts by evaluating the headache patient with medication overuse, determining the overused drug(s), assessing the impact of headaches on the patient and assessing comorbid conditions and disorders. Withdrawal of the overused medication is the cornerstone of treatment. An inpatient or outpatient setting is chosen based on the clinical profile of the patient. There is evidence for abrupt withdrawal combined with headache preventive treatment. Bridging therapy to bring relief to withdrawal headaches and/or symptoms should be offered. Education and motivational work through multidisciplinary assessment show benefits in sustaining withdrawal and preventing relapse.

Although the reversal of chronic headache after cessation of overused acute medication has been noticed worldwide, different aspects of the management of MOH, such as complete or gradual withdrawal, or preventive treatment with or without withdrawal are still debated.


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