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Papers: 15 May 2021 - 21 May 2021


2021 May 17

CNS Drugs

The Evolution of Medication Overuse Headache: History, Pathophysiology and Clinical Update.


Sun-Edelstein C, Rapoport AM, Rattanawong W, Srikiatkhachorn A
CNS Drugs. 2021 May 17.
PMID: 34002347.


Medication overuse headache (MOH), the development or worsening of chronic headache resulting from frequent and excessive intake of medications used for acute treatment of headache, is a common secondary headache disorder and is associated with significant personal and societal burdens. The plausible physiologic mechanism is that chronic exposure to acute care migraine treatment leads to suppression of endogenous antinociceptive systems, consequently facilitating the trigeminal nociceptive process via up-regulation of the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) system. Recognizing and preventing its development is an integral aspect of migraine management, as medication overuse is a modifiable risk factor in the progression from episodic to chronic migraine. Over the years, MOH has been difficult to treat and has generated much controversy. Ongoing debates exist over the diagnostic criteria and treatment strategies, particularly regarding the roles of formal detoxification and preventive treatment. The arrival of the anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies has also challenged our views of MOH and its treatment. This review outlines the evolution of MOH diagnostic criteria, presents the current understanding of MOH pathogenesis and discusses the debates over its development and treatment. Data on the efficacy of anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies in the setting of medication overuse is also presented. These results indicate that patients with medication overuse, who are treated with these new medications, may not need to be detoxified in order to treat MOH. In light of these developments, it is likely that in the future MOH will be more readily diagnosed and treatment will result in better outcomes.