Rebound headaches can occur when a person takes over-the-counter pain remedies such as aspirin, acetominophen or ibuprofen more than twice a week. This headache can also develop from taking certain prescription pain medications too frequently. Typically, the patient is trying to treat an underlying and recurrent migraine or tension headache and, over time, a rebound headache develops because of the frequency of the medication used. In a sense, the patient develops a “withdrawl” from the therapy if he/she doesn’t take the next dose. The headache, which typically develops in the morning, is only relieved by taking more medication. A vicious cycle soon develops, which is difficult to break.
Physician evaluation is critical in determining what is causing the underlying headache and whether a rebound component is a contributing factor. Therapy for rebound headaches centers around gradually weaning down on the offending medication(s). It takes most people about one month to “detox”. Preventative therapy prescribed by a physician can smooth the transition and can treat the underlying migraine or tension headache as well. Massage, chiropractic manipulation, accupuncture, warm soaks, ice packs, getting enough sleep, not skipping breakfast, avoiding caffeine and alcohol and meditation can also be helpful at breaking the rebound headache cycle…..Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA