Assessing factors such as headache-related disability, use of combination medications, and fear of pain may help identify patients with medication-overuse headache, according to a study published in Headache.
Researchers found that 43 of the study’s 164 participants (26.2%) met diagnostic criteria for medication-overuse headache. These individuals experienced more headache days per month on average than those without medication-overuse headache (20.58 vs 9.60; P =.001).
In addition, compared with participants not experiencing medication-overuse headache, those with medication-overuse headache reported greater headache-related disability (odds ratio [OR], 1.09; 95% CI, 1.01-1.18), attempts to escape and avoid stimuli associated with pain (OR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.07-1.15), and use of combination medications for headache (OR, 3.10; 95% CI, 1.51-6.36).
The researchers cited several limitations, including an inability to determine temporal ordering of variables, a lack of biologic markers, and a low survey response rate.
Based on these findings, researchers determined the above risk factors could accurately identify individuals with medication-overuse headache. “The present study is a first step in an effort to more effectively identify and ultimately treat [people with] headache who are overusing acute headache medications,” they concluded.
Peck KR, Roland MM, Smitherman TA. Factors associated with medication-overuse headache in patients seeking treatment for primary headache [published online March 9, 2018]. Headache. doi: 10.1111/head.13294