Patients with primary headache disorders, such as migraine, may use a variety of drugs chronically. Some examples are ergotamine, analgesics, opioids, and triptans. These may be taken alone or in combination. However, chronic use of such drugs can end up causing headache, a condition called medication overuse headache (MOH).
The prevalence of this condition is increasing worldwide and in the general population is 1–1.4% with a peak prevalence in women in their 50s. It’s therefore considered a major health problem. The reason medication overuse headaches occur is not known, and is still a matter of debate.
The treatment of MOH generally includes discontinuation of the overused medication. But stopping medications can lead to "withdrawal headache.” Various therapeutic protocols for removing chronic medications without causing severe side effects are not proven, which makes the treatment of a difficult problem even more complex. Probably the best way to prevent MOH from happening is to use medications as sparingly as possible.