The Pain of Chronic Headache

Dr. Mark Borigini Health Guide
  • Chronic headache is a major source of chronic pain. Many patients resort to the chronic use of pain-killers such as Vicodin; however, a recent study shows the utility of drugs which have a different mechanism of action.

    The results of a randomized, placebo-controlled study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society over the summer. In it, the anti-seizure drug topiramate was shown to significantly relieve the suffering of those with chronic daily headaches.

    Those patients entered in the study at baseline had headaches 20 to 21 days each month; these headaches would be accompanied by features such as nausea or vomiting, pulsatility, or worsening of pain with movement. Most of the patients were women, and most had had near-daily headaches for more than 9 years.
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    Thanks to the topiramate, the number of days with migraine-like headaches declined compared to those patients taking placebo. Also, peak severity of headache pain was reduced.

    Topiramate, marketed under the trade name Topamax, is already FDA approved for the prevention of episodic migraine headaches. (An episodic migraine headache is one which occurs less than 15 days each month.) It has been studied in both Europe and the United States.

    The side effect most seen with Topamax was paresthesia, a sensation of numbness and/or tingling. This occurred in about 30% of patients. There were no serious or life-threatening side effects.

    It will be interesting to see further studies on the pain-relieving effects of Topamax and other anti-seizure drugs.
Published On: October 03, 2006