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THE ROLE OF DRUGS

Drugs have an important role to play in managing headache pain and there is a place for drug therapy in an overall treatment plan.  But the drugs treat the symptom and not the cause of the headache.  If the origin of the headache is a soft tissue disorder in the upper body, manual therapy can play an essential part in relieving headache pain by treating it at its source.

A wide range of drugs are used to treat headache pain, from prescription medications to over-the-counter remedies.  Some are given in an attempt
to prevent headaches and others are prescribed to relieve the symptoms
once a headache begins.  It is important to note, however, that many headache pain medications can have adverse side effects.  Like most drugs, they are relatively safe when used carefully and under a physician’s supervision.  The National Institutes of Health states: “To avoid long-term side effects of preventive medications, headache specialists advise patients to reduce the dosage of these drugs and then stop taking them as soon as possible.”

There are five basic categories of headache drugs:

  • pain medications
  • muscle relaxants
  • anti-inflammatories
  • anti-depressants
  • anti-convulsants

Generally, medications prescribed to reduce the frequency of headaches need to be taken daily to be effective.  These medications are less helpful to patients with infrequent headaches, and may also be less tolerable.  Patients need to be aware of potential side effects.

headachetherapy.org | Email Michael | 847.770.3332