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Causes and Treatments of Migraine Headaches (cont.)


Daily Chronic Headache

Daily chronic headache is defined as a headache that is present for more than 15 days a month and for at least 6 months a year. Three main types are noted: chronic tension-type headache, migraine chronic tension-type headache complex, and rebound (analgesic abuse) headache. How the body produces chronic daily headaches is not well understood. They have been associated with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, panic attacks, mouth/jaw problems, stress, and drug overuse.

Chronic tension-type headache

Chronic tension-type headaches are not associated with a history of migraine or cluster headaches. Patients report almost constant daily headaches of mild-to-moderate intensity. The headache is described as a feeling of tightness or pressure that is not worsened, and may actually be improved, by activity. Patients with chronic tension-type headaches can carry on their daily activities. Nausea and photophobia (sensitivity to light) may occur, but vomiting usually does not. A small group of patients may have head and neck tenderness.

Chronic tension-type headache, Treatment

Patients who are less responsive to previous treatment and those with conditions like depression and stress may be good candidates for psychological treatments. Biofeedback has been successful in patients with tension headache. They are taught how to relax their tense muscles. Thermal biofeedback, in which patients are taught to increase their body temperatures to improve their headaches, has also worked. Other less conventional treatments, such as relaxation training and stress-coping training, may be helpful in the long term.

Transformed migraine

Migraine transformation has been a term used by some experts to describe when intermittent migraines become daily migraines. This type of headache is believed to be associated with analgesic or ergotamine overuse. Patients report intermittent typical migraine attacks along with the daily chronic headaches.

Transformed migraine, Treatment


  • Stopping all analgesics and headache-related medications is best done in an inpatient setting.
  • Doctors may prescribe a clonidine (Catapres) patch to lessen withdrawal symptoms if narcotic analgesics are involved.
  • Preventive: Preventive treatments for transformed migraine headaches are identical to those used for the other types of migraine headache.

Other uncommon chronic headaches

Hemicrania continua and chronic paroxysmal hemicrania are uncommon forms of chronic headache. Chronic paroxysmal hemicrania is a severe chronic headache similar to cluster headache. It has a male predominance. The headaches are paroxysmal (pulsing), with pain in the temple/eye region lasting 20-30 minutes. The paroxysms occur several times a day. This type of headache can last several years. Treatment with indomethacin (Indocin) results in a dramatic response.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2016
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