What Can I Take For Rebound Headaches?

Rebound headache is caused due to the overuse of the medications commonly used to treat headaches. This condition is characterized by the constant and dull pain along with depression and fatigue. The only way to manage the rebound headache is the adherence to the prescription and avoiding any long term drug administration.

What Can I Take For Rebound Headaches?

What Can I Take For Rebound Headaches?

  1. Avoid Taking Medications For Pain Frequently: Most of the rebound headache occurs due to frequent administration of the analgesics and that loo for a longer period. It has been said that administering the analgesics for a longer period may treat today’s pain but increases the risk of tomorrow’s pain. Thus, the frequent administration of the rug should be avoided, and the analgesic drugs should be taken strictly as prescribed and for a particular time period.
  2. Bridge Therapy: The standard procedure for getting relieved from the rebound headache is to stop the administration of analgesics. But it is very difficult for the patient to stop the medications and get again in to the pain due to disease conditions such as migraine. For such conditions, bridge therapy came to rescue. In this therapy various drugs such as steroids, dihydroergotamine or IV medications such as valproates are administered to the patient that provide a prolong relief to the patient and it significantly helps in breaking the cycle of headache and also to relief the patient from withdrawal syndrome when they are on high doses of opioids. The relief provided to the patient through bridge therapy persists for few weeks and the patient have enough time to recover from rebound headache caused due to the use of analgesics.

  3. Prophylactic Therapy: In patients with more frequent episodes of rebound headaches such as 8-10 days of migraine per month, the therapy can be shifted to prophylactic therapy rather than curative therapy. Topiramates can be used for prophylactic management of migraine. Further, if the migraine attack occurs, the empirical approach should not be followed rather a rationale approach is followed. This means that the generic pain relieving agent is not administered rather migraine specific drugs should be administered.
  4. Avoid Opioids Or Barbiturates: Barbiturates and opioids are most notorious in causing the rebound headache and thus should not be the preferred choice in cases of acute migraine attack. Medicines specific pain management in migraine attacks such as dihydroergotamine can be used.

  5. Drink Plenty Of Fluids: Increased fluid intake helps in flushing out the toxic substances from the body as well as lower the concentration of chemicals that promotes the occurrence of headache. Thus, the patient is advised to take plenty of fluids.

Drugs That Causes Rebound Headache

  1. Single Ingredient As Pain Reliever: Rebound headache is a condition caused due to chronic administration of analgesic for various chronic conditions such as migraine. This category incorporates general pain relievers such as paracetamol and aspirin. Further, most of the rebound headache is due to the administration of the drug in excess of the recommended dose. Various pain relievers such as naproxen relatively have lesser risk as compared to aspirin.
  2. Fixed Dose Combinations Or Combination Of Various Drugs: It has been seen time and again that the patients are inclined to use the combination of pain relievers due to the perception that it may immediately manage their pain. Thus, the patient should not use combination pain reliever as these drugs hold a higher risk for rebound headache.

  3. Migraine Medications: Migraine medications are most notorious in causing rebound headache. There are some drugs for migraine such as dihydroergotamine which can be used to treat acute episodes of migraine and have relatively low risk of causing rebound headache as compared to triptans which are commonly known for causing rebound headache.
  4. Opiates: Various opioids, used for the management of migraine and other headaches may cause rebound headache. Thus, it is advised that these opioids should be used in the doses and time period as advised by the physician.


Various approaches for the management of rebound headache includes avoiding overuse of the pain killers, following the prescription of physician, avoid opioids; drink plenty of fluid and administration of bridge therapy.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 14, 2023

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