Migraines and headaches are bad enough without rebounds. Once rebounds have started they can be very tricky to deal with as the body is trying to bounce back from the suppressing effect of some medications, luckily there’s a lot we can do. In this article I will be covering 5 massive tips to stop rebound migraines and headaches.
Definition of a rebound migraine or headache
A rebound migraine or headache is one that is created from the use of symptom-relieving medicinal substances.
This is most often caused by strong pain-killers like opiates but because of their widespread use can also be caused by the common migraine medication family the triptans.
What we want to understand here is that it is often the masking of symptoms that causes the body to bounce back with another head pain in response.
In some areas we could simplify it to say that our blood vessels are dilating during a migraine so then when a triptan that causes blood vessel constriction wears off there is a rebound of dilation again.
But it does not appear to be so simple as many migraine medications which either constrict or dilate blood vessels can cause the rebound which is why we will talk about primary and secondary symptoms of a medication below.
This is why rebound headaches or migraines have been reclassified as medication overuse headaches.
Medication overuse is one of the hardest headaches to deal with and get rid of partly because more medication will only make it worse. If you are experiencing headaches over 15 days a month then this may be an important area to investigate further.
Let us dive in.
The 5 Massive Tips to stop rebound migraines and headaches
1. Get an expert opinion first
There is a lot you may not take into account because of a lack of knowledge of medications and conditions so it’s incredibly important to first ask your doctor the questions below.
There are many different medications that may be used for both migraines and headaches, some of which will rebound easier than others. This is where your primary healthcare provider is the most important source and it may be as easy as changing a medication, frequency, dosage etc.
Prevention always works better than having to deal with the snowball already rolling.
When we can distinguish between primary and secondary symptoms we can understand our migraines, headaches and medications much better.
A primary symptom is one caused by the effect of a drug whereas a secondary symptom is caused by the reaction of our body to that drug… The rebounding of our body to the effects of the drug.
For example; if we take a laxative and experience diarrhea, after the effects of the laxative have worn off we will experience constipation until our body balances out.
When consulting with your doctor make sure to ask:
- What is the exact dosage and frequency I should be taking of the medication I am on?
- What is the maximum frequency and dosage I can take before rebounds are expected?
- Are there other medications that I can use which may not create a rebound but still help me with my situation?
- How do I go about preventing or stopping a rebounding headache?
We need to educate ourselves and our doctors about our situation so that we can make the most informed choice possible while still continually looking outside of the mainstream as many solutions will not be found through medication.
2. Deficiencies may cause as many headaches as excesses
There are two states here that need to be taken care of; the migraines or headaches you’ve been medicating for and the headaches that have resulted as a byproduct of the medication.
If you only deal with the medication you may be leaving pieces out of the puzzle but there are also two types of deficiencies that need to be taken into account.
- The kind that comes from lacking diets and excess stress, methylation issues, parasites etc… (See Food Triggers guide)
- The kind that comes from medications
It’s incredibly important these are supported during our time on a medication. The problem is they are almost never looked after and this puts a huge strain on our system, compounded by the increasingly low food quality available to us.
You can use this website to search your medications and supplements to see if there are interactions or nutrient depletions caused by them.
3. If you had to wean up, make sure you wean off
Your doctor is the pro in this area and they should be the ones consulted for any medication changes.
Even though it is very common to feel like you should stop a medication immediately because it’s hurting you, it may cause even more damage if you stop abruptly and this is the last thing you want.
Topamax or topiramate is notoriously well known for causing massive side effects from its use on migraines and headaches which is exactly why it needs to be carefully managed by your doc.
Slow and steady with the guidance of your doctor you can ensure that your body adjusts to a medication and then readjusts to its reduction.
See the list of the most commonly rebounding medications below:
4. Up-regulate your bodies ability to stop headaches
Your body is always trying to maintain homeostasis which is its natural, normal and healthy state.
The more stress we put on it through:
The farther outside of homeostasis it will be able to maintain itself.
Not only are nutrients superb at dealing with headaches but they are absolutely necessary to keep headaches at bay. As I said above we are simply not getting the required nutrition out of our diets and especially not if we are eating processed, packaged and fried foods.
The closer we can get the food to its natural state in nature the more intact the nutrients in it will be and the easier for our body to absorb and use them.
A fortified food is not a food at all and the mere idea of having to fortify a food to make it nutritious should alarm you to how empty of nutrition it really is. Most fortified nutrients do not get utilized and instead have to be processed through the liver and detoxified.
Keeping away headaches is a combination of reducing inflammation, oxidation and stress, especially structural stress.
This means you need to:
Eat more anti-inflammatory foods than you do inflammatory ones(Whole food)
Eat plenty of antioxidants and sulfur-containing vegetables
Cut out any sensitive foods you may have developed from gut issues, overeating, eating too often etc (See the Food Triggers Guide to understand it all)
Fix the tension in your musculature and fascia which can be done with a well trained physical therapist like a CHEK practitioner
These steps are the crucial foundation to making sure your brain is not overloaded but if you still have problems after these areas are addressed then a skilled holistic health practitioner is necessary and will be able to guide you through the dozen+ areas that headaches may be coming from.
5. Fix your risk factors for rebounds
The risk factors I will list below are not only a risk for rebounds but also a massive sign that you are already sick and progressing into chronic disease. These have to be addressed holistically if you want to have the health and resilience to keep head pains at bay and have control over your life.
They include but are not limited to:
An increasing frequency of headaches
Overweight or a stomach measurement over 80% of your hips
Smoking and other poisonous drug abuse
Comorbid conditions or pain disorders
Mental instability such as anxiety or depression
A sedentary lifestyle
It is also more common to get rebounds if you use multiple abortive medications called polypharmacy or combine abortives with excedrin. See our article comparing excedrin migraine vs CBD
It’s important we address our brain from multiple areas of health because disease is not one-sided. All of our systems are interconnected and things like digestive disorders are some of the most common sources of headaches.
It is multifactorial and our body depends on our threshold to keep migraines at bay.
If we can keep the level of stress from our triggers lower than the threshold which is our bodies tolerance to stress then we will have a much easier time staying trigger free.
See the video below to learn threshold theory and how the body uses 3 key factors to determine if we will trigger or not.
When we want to steer clear of rebounds we have to:
Make sure we consult with our doctor to see what else we can do with our medications and how much is too much
Fix deficiencies from medications and lifestyle
Wean to avoid damage from stress
Increase the most powerful tool we have which is our bodies ability to heal itself
Correct our risk factors for rebound
By keeping these in check we will be much better off and healthier overall in our journey toward being pain-free.
If you are struggling with head pains and migraines that medications are not working on and last forever make sure you read our article on understanding status migrainosus and intractable migraines here.
If you would like to learn more about migraines than you ever have before join our community and get the free E-guide The 5 mistakes of hormonal migraines here.
Have you ever experienced a rebound or almost started rebounding? Let me know in the comments below and share this with someone struggling with headaches.
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.