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Keywords:

  • medication overuse headache;
  • outpatient treatment;
  • multidisciplinary treatment;
  • treatment-resistant headache;
  • follow-up

Objective.— To evaluate the long-term efficacy of a structured, multidisciplinary treatment program in patients who had been treated unsuccessfully for medication overuse headache by specialists in an open-label design.

Background.— Medication overuse headache is a common and disabling disease. Management is complicated by substantial treatment failure and relapse, and those who relapse and nonresponders to treatment are often excluded from studies on medication overuse headache.

Methods.— Patients with medication overuse headache who had previously been unsuccessfully treated by specialists and referred to a specialized, tertiary headache centre were recruited. They underwent a structured 2-month detoxification program and were subsequently closely followed up for 10 months by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

Results.— Eighty-six of 98 patients completed the study.

Primary Outcome.— At 12-month follow-up, headache frequency was reduced by 39.3% (P < .001), 71 patients (82.6%) remained cured of medication overuse, reduction in headache frequency of more than 50% occurred in 42 patients (48.8%), and 52 (60.5%) reverted to episodic headache. Both of these figures had increased significantly from month 2 to month 12 (P < .001). Medication use was reduced by 62.8% (P < .001).

Conclusion.— Patients with medication overuse headache previously regarded treatment-resistant benefit considerably from multidisciplinary treatment in a structured detoxification program with close follow-up.