Four percent of Americans suffer headaches daily, and scientists have suspected culprits as diverse as undiagnosed jaw disorders, genetic susceptibility and stress. But according to recent research, a sizable and growing number of headaches are being caused by the very medications taken to alleviate them — and the problem is far more common than scientists had realized. Half of chronic migraines, and as many as 25 percent of all headaches, are actually “rebound” episodes triggered by the overuse of common pain medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs may be to blame.
Patients begin by popping too many pills to deal with a migraine or a simple tension-type headache. When the medications stop, another headache follows, similar to a hangover. Sufferers race again to the medicine cabinet, and before long they are locked in a cycle of headaches and over medication.
At any given time, more than three million Americans are suffering from headache pain they are inflicting on themselves, according to Dr. Stephen D. Silberstein, a professor of neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “If a patient’s headaches have grown markedly worse or more frequent, the problem is almost always medication overuse,” Dr. Silberstein said.
The International Headache Society last year published revised criteria to help doctors recognize and treat headache pain from medication overuse. Signs of trouble include headaches that occur 15 or more days a month, according to the society, along with the heavy use of headache pain medications for three months or more. Overuse is defined as taking pain medication for 15 or more days a month.
Chiropractor Dr. Brian M. Moriarty has a B.S. from Oglethorpe University and a D.C. from Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida. Loving Chiorpractic of Stuart is located at 630 SE Monterey Road, Stuart FL Phone: 772-219-3313.