Medication overuse headache

In September the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence put out a report ( on medication overuse headache, saying that 1 million people in the UK suffer chronic headaches because they are taking too many painkillers for migraine and headaches. This vicious circle, where pain and drugs reinforce each other, is unnecessary and NICE recommends that doctors should ask their patients to go cold turkey and endure the pain for a few weeks without medication. The Times said that the report also recommends acupuncture as “the only proven method to prevent headaches”. However, on looking at the full guidelines it would appear that the evidence supporting the use of acupuncture is of mixed quality and to suggest that it is the only proven method would seem to be going too far. Of course, if the project I am running at the National Migraine Centre is successful, we would hope that NICE will include hypnotherapy in their recommendations in future. There is plenty of existing evidence on using hypnosis for pain management. You cannot overuse hypnosis, and the approach we are using — teaching participants to use self-help techniques such as self-hypnosis — should be very cost-effective.


One of the participants in the “Hypnotherapy for Migraine” project has already written about her experiences and you might like to see what Fiona Russell has to say:

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