‘Medication overuse’ is the new term given to severe headaches caused by the over reliance on pain relief medication including paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin. A review board for the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have today reported their new guidelines for treating headaches.
The collaboration of researchers including doctors, neuroscientists came together to review current guidelines on causes of headaches and recommended treatments.
There are over 200 types of headache, many of these fall into one of four main categories including; migraine, tension, cluster and now medication over use. It was found in the review that GP’s have difficulty diagnosing the particular type of headache and subsequently the NHS are spending millions of pounds on unnecessary brain scans in an attempt to put patients minds at rest.
The review board found that millions of Britons could be suffering from completely preventable headaches every day. Researchers cited medication overuse as one major cause of headaches. It was reported that people who take pain medication for more than 15 days of the month were likely to be stuck in a cycle of head pain, pain relief and then further pain caused by the over use of pain medication.
The review board concluded that the best way to break the cycle of headaches was to completely stop taking pain relief. They reported that this would be extremely difficult for most patients who suffer from medication overuse as the likelihood is that their headaches would get worse for a number of weeks before getting considerably better.
In addition, the NICE review reported that acupuncture should be recommended to patients who suffer from both migraine and tension headaches. Acupuncture has been used in numerous recent clinical trials and has been found to address many of the elements of tension headaches and migraines.