Chronic Migraine Strongly
Linked With Analgesic Overuse
Reuters Health-May 18,2004
Chronic migraine is more strongly linked to analgesic overuse than are other
chronic pain conditions, such as neck and low-back pain, according to a new
The findings are based on a study of more than 49,000 subjects in Norway who
completed questionnaires about chronic pain conditions and analgesic use.
Overall, 1% of subjects who used analgesics daily or almost daily for at
least 1 month reported having a chronic headache, defined as 15 or more days
per month with headache, lead author Dr. J.-A. Zwart, from the Norwegian
University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and colleagues note.
Among subjects who reported analgesic overuse for at least 3 months, the
prevalence of chronic headache was 0.9%. The rate in women was 1.2%, double
that seen in men.
Analgesic overuse for at least 1 month increased the risk of chronic
headache 7.5-fold, the authors note in the May 11th issue of Neurology.
Among various chronic pain conditions, analgesic overuse was most strongly
linked to chronic migraine, followed by non-migraine headache, low-back
pain, and neck-pain. Compared with subjects who used analgesic
appropriately, overusers were10.3 times more likely to report chronic
"This is the first study reporting the age and gender distribution of
chronic headache associated with analgesic overuse in a general population,"
the researchers note. "The high number of individuals with analgesic overuse
has important clinical implications, and physicians should be aware of the
potential risk of analgesic overuse among those with chronic pain,
especially among those with migraine."