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Posted by Bob P ( on September 10, 2001 at 14:21:26:

In Reply to: can't get enough posted by marilyn on September 09, 2001 at 23:43:34:

Narcotics Are Not Usually Benefical For Nonmigrainous Headache

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (Reuters Health) Feb 20 - Only about one quarter of patients with debilitating headaches that are not migraines benefit from treatment with narcotics such as morphine and oxycodone, a Michigan researcher reported here Thursday.

"We're seeing our patients, young people in their teens from all over the country, who are sent to us on very high dosages of narcotics. They're worse than ever," Dr. Joel R. Saper, of the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, told participants of the the 17th Annual American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting.

"Several years ago, I became increasingly concerned that there was not enough information on whether headache patients who did not benefit from standard therapy really would get better if they were put on narcotics," Dr. Saper said.

According to Dr. Saper, the center conducted a 5-year prospective study on narcotics prescribed for intractable headache patients. The study of more than 300 patients was completed last year. "We found that less than one in four patients who had been put on narcotics for a prolonged period of time actually did well. Many worsened in the process," he said.

There are no guidelines and definitions about which patients with intractable headache would benefit from frequent narcotics and which would not, he told Reuters Health in an interview during the meeting.

"I caution my colleagues about premature use of narcotics. We're seeing patients who should not have been placed on narcotics and are worse because of that. Our data support our observation that while some people benefit, the majority do not," he said.

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