One of the big problems we have in the US is our reliance on medications to treat all medical conditions. The biggest sign of this problem is, of course, our deadly opium crisis, which resulted from patients and doctors turning to opioids too often for chronic pain conditions.

But a more common sign that we’re relying too much on medications is the prevalence of medication overuse headaches. Medications are supposed to alleviate the pain of headaches, but for many people, using too many medications becomes the cause of pain. Now a new study has identified the people most likely to develop medication overuse headaches. This can help doctors identify at-risk patients, as well as help people identify their personal risk. It’s also important that at-risk individuals understand that drug-free headache treatment options exist so they can hopefully avoid medication overuse headaches.

Who's at Risk for Medication Overuse Headache?

Finding the Risks for Medication Overuse

For this study, researchers looked at 164 patients who were seeking treatment for their headaches. More than a quarter of the patients (43, 26.2%) met the diagnostic criteria for medication overuse headaches. They then looked at information provided by patients, including demographics, headache descriptions, psychiatric data, medication data, and more to figure out what patients were most likely to have medication overuse headaches.

They found that the biggest risk of medication overuse headaches was the use of combination medications, which was associated with triple the risk of overuse headaches. People who reported higher levels of disability and those who reported fear of pain were also slightly more likely to experience medication overuse headaches.

Managing the Dangers of Medications

Medications are dangerous, and it’s important for us to manage them properly to reduce people’s risks of complications. This includes medication overuse headaches, which doctors and patients can work together to avoid. Doctors can work to identify patients who are at a higher risk for medication overuse headaches. They can also use caution in prescribing medications that are associated with overuse headaches. When prescribing these medications, they can emphasize their proper use to reduce the risk of complications.

People also need to remember the risks associated with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and make sure they are following all labels and guidance from their doctor.

It’s also important to look for opportunities to use drug-free treatments to help patients avoid complications associated with drugs. TMJ treatment can help many people reduce or eliminate headaches without medications.

If you are looking for drug-free treatment options for headache and other chronic pain in Denver, please call (303) 691-0267 today for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.