We noticed that a lot of people are suffering from rebound headaches and Sara asked me to post some information. I hope this is helpful or generates some ideas. If you have questions, please feel free to ask publicly or via my email (left button under my name).
Rebound headaches occur from over-using medications for headache pain. Generally they involve exceeding labelling instructions or doctor's prescriptions advice. (Migraine Headaches, Glossary of Terms, WebMD, http://my.webmd.com/content/article/46/1826_50702.htm)
Initially the medication relieves the headache but after continuous use, a headache starts when the medication wears off and is relieved when the medication is taken again because the body has become accustomed to it. Over time more and more medication is needed.
For more information there is a good article on the Healing Well Website titled “Rebound Headache Cycle: What Is It and How to Break It” at https://www.healingwell.com/library/migraines/jolly1.asp.
A rebound headache often feels to me like a tension headache but left long enough can trigger a migraine headache. Mine are often triggered from lack of caffeine, codeine or Tylenol. Other pain relievers such as Ibuprofen and triptans such as Zomig and Amerge can also cause rebound headaches.
There are many different schools of thought on coming off medications causing rebound medications. I have read books written by neurologists that say one should stop them completely and endure the pain. I have never been able to do this. I find the best way is to wean off the medication(s) slowly. For example, I started at 4 Tylenol 3s / day, one in the morning, one at noon and one at bed time. Then in one week 3 / day ½ in the morning, one at noon and one at bed time, decreasing each week by ½. I experienced some pain but overall it was bearable.
I take Toradol, a prescription pain killer my doctor feels does not contribute to rebound headaches. I also take Topamax, Nadolol and Celexa as preventative medications with some natural supplements: Calcium / Magnesium, Valerian Root, Multivitamin and Melatonin. As I wean off the medications I find that these medications work better.
For more information there is a good article on the Healing Well Website title “Rebound Headache Cycle: How to Safely Taper off Medications” at https://www.healingwell.com/library/migraines/jolly2.asp.
I have found the secret / trick is to have a plan. Write out how you’re going to come off the medications, get your doctor’s approval and then work at it day by day. If the pain becomes unbearable go to the doctor. Include in your plan strategies for the days when you’re going to have a headache. Things like hot baths, alternative medications, exercise, meditation, walking or other calming activities.
Once you have weaned off the medications follow the 2 and 5 rule. If you take medication 2 days in a row don’t take it again for 5. This should help you avoid the rebound rut.