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  • Open Access

Preliminary results of a withdrawal and detoxification therapeutic regimen in patients with probable chronic migraine and probable medication overuse headache

  • 1Email author,
  • 2,
  • 3 and
The Journal of Headache and Pain20056:225

  • Published:


Chronic migraine (CM) is an invalidating condition affecting a significant population of headache sufferers, frequently associated with medication overuse headache (MOH). Controlled trials and guidelines for the treatment of MOH are currently not available. We studied the efficacy of a therapeutic regimen for the withdrawal of the overused drug and detoxification in a sample of patients suffering from probable CM and probable MOH during admission in eight hospitals of Piemonte–Liguria–Valle d’Aosta. Fifty patients, 42 females (84%) and 8 males (16%), mean age at observation 50.66±13.08 years, affected by probable CM and daily medication overuse following IHS diagnostic criteria were treated as inpatients or in a day hospital. Headache index (HI) and daily drug intake (DDI) were used for evaluating the severity of headache and medication overuse. The patients were treated by abrupt discontinuation of the overused drug and by a therapeutic protocol including i.v. hydration, dexamethasone, metoclopramide and benzodiazepines for 7–10 days. Prophylactic medication was started immediately after admission. Analgesics or triptans were used under medical control only in cases of severe rebound headache. Diagnostic protocol included routine blood tests (at admission and at discharge), dosage of B12 and folic acid. Patients underwent follow-up controls one, three and six months after discharge. The initial diagnosis was probable CM in almost all patients included in the study (41 patients); in nine patients the diagnosis was not specified (coded only as CDH). The overused medications were simple analgesics in 17 cases (34%), combination analgesics in 19 cases (38%), triptans alone or with analgesics in 13 cases (26%) and ergotamine in 2 cases (4%). We collected data from 39 patients at first follow–up (1 month), 32 after 3 months and 14 after 6 months. Mean HI was 0.91 at admission, 0.22 at discharge, 0.38 after 30 days, 0.46 after 3 months and 0.48 after 6 months. Mean DDI was 2.80 at admission, 0.39 at discharge, 0.41 after 1 month, 0.52 after 3 months and 0.59 after 6 months. These results are on average positive and tend to remain stable with time. Although preliminary and obtained on a limited number of patients at 6–month follow–up, our results seem to be encouraging about the use of the proposed therapeutic protocol.

Key words

  • Chronic daily headache
  • Chronic migraine
  • Medication overuse
  • Detoxification


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