Natural health


Vol. 8 Issue 112

Medication overuse has been assigned as the cause of at least 50% of all cases of chronic headaches.

One recent study published in Neurology showed that daily or near-daily use of analgesics is associated with chronic headaches and other chronic pain conditions.

Researchers designed the study to determine how many chronic headaches (such as migraines), are actually caused by the overuse of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

65,000 adults, aged 20 and older, completed a health survey which asked if the person suff e red headaches and how frequently their headaches occurred.

People who reported suffering with more than 15 headaches per month were categorized as chronic headache sufferers. Researchers further divided the group into migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers based on set criteria.

The survey also asked about medication use. If participants reported using analgesics daily or almost daily for one month or more in the previous 12 months, it was constituted as “overuse.”

Researchers also inquired about the presence of neck pain, low back pain and other musculoskeletal symptoms. Those who reported neck or back pain for at least three of the previous 12 months and for at least 15 days in the past month were classified as “chronic pain sufferers.”

Researchers discovered that daily analgesic use for a prolonged period had a dramatic effect on chronic headaches and chronic pain:

  • Chronic migraine headaches are more than 20 times more likely to occur in persons taking analgesics on a daily basis for more than six months.
  • Chronic non-migraine headaches are nearly 10 times more likely to occur in those taking analgesics daily for more than six months.
  • Chronic neck pain and chronic low back pain is 3.5 times more likely to occur in those taking analgesics for more than six months.

SOURCE: Neurology, May 11, 2004; Dynamic Chiropractic, July 15, 2004, pp.1, 45.