Sumatriptan overuse/wtihdrawal, anyone suffered from this?

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I have suffered with migraines for years now. I've tried Propranolol, Topirmate and Amitriptyline to try and stop them with little success. I've just had an MRI and am waiting to see a neurologist. In the meantime though the migraines have increased and are near-on daily now. I'm worried though that I'm triggering more of them by taking Sumatriptan on a regular basis. I was on a prescription for 12 a month but as they got worse my GP upped my allowance to 24. This has been a godsend in some ways but now I'm rarely pain-free for more than 48 hours and then it returns and I have to take more pain relief to cope with daily life. I'm sick and tired of this now and really worried that I'm suffering with withdrawal rather than having genuine migraines. Problem is stopping taking Sumatriptan as it's so painful and there never seems to be a good time to be in that much pain and having to rely on others for help (I have two small children).

Has anyone successfully withdrawn from Sumatriptan, and if so did you find an alternative pain relief to help with the pain that allowed you to stop? I'm desperate to stop now!! Thanks

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Susiebelle,

    Well I have been on sumatriptan tablets and or epi pen injection, which works faster, for around 7 years and and I rarely have a day that I dont take a tablet or injection.  I too would like to stop having them but nothing seems to control my headaches.  I currently take 300mg Pregabalin twice a day and 240mg Verapamil 3 times a day, so dont know how things would be if I didnt take them.  I have cluster headache and hemeplegic migraine that hospitalisies me for about a week as it resembles a stroke,  For this I have botox injections, Flunarizine and Nortriptlene.

    Sorry not much help I know and if you get a sollution please let me know.

    Take care

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  • Posted

    Hi - yes in exactly same situation as you - almost daily migrain and Sumitriptan the only thing that works, but then I worry about taking too much. I have tried beta blockers, topiramate, gabapentin, and others - just started amitriptyline and keeping fingers corssed. I had clear MRI and the neurologist told me to reduce Sumitriptan to max two tablets a week.I cried when she said that as i coudlnt imagine coping without the Sumitriptan. I took a week off work and with alot of family support (i too have 2 young children) cancelled everything in my diary. After the worse migraine ever it did clear and i was migraine free for a month. It has gradullay crept back up - i think the Sumitriptan definately contribute to the frequency of migraine. I have started having weekly massage on my shoulders and neck which is very tight and knotty - i really feel this is helping - i had 5 clear head days the week before last which was bliss (and makes me think its not MOH?)

    I know exactly what you are going from - i think the worry of it all makes the migriane worse. The neurologist told me you coudlnt take an alternative pain relief but to withdraw slowly - first reduce to every other day taking Sumitriptan. 

    Good luck x

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    • Posted

      Yeah, tried withdrawal again this week. Took a triptan on Monday then picked up repeat prescription on Tuesday. Managed to get to Thursday night before I had to give in an take one because the pain was so bad on the left-hand side of my head. The pain switches around and never goes entirely now. I dream of those lovely days when after a triptan I'd be pain free for about 5 days before I got a recurrence. That doesn't happen anymore sadly, it just eases to a copable dull thud that then gets worse day by day. The last time I was told I had medication overuse pain a GP put me on Propranalol and that did help, got rid of all the pain and remained that way for about a year. This was blissful but unfortunately the pain returned gradually and I gained weight :-( I was prescribed it again for palpatations (which come and go) but I have so far resisted going back on it. If this pain continues daily for much longer though I may give it another try... I am that desperate!

      I am still waiting on my results from my MRI and have been told it's going to be a long wait to see an neurologist, GP didn't have anything else to offer me. Not great help really is it?

      Have you heard of Upper Cervical Chiropractic? It's a big thing in the US, I am going to see if I can find a local practitioner who knows about it...

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  • Posted

    Hi  You must be much younger than I to get such a big prescription for them.  When I saw a neurologist he told me that once over the age of 50 you should never take more than 2 a month as they can contribute to heart attack by restricting your blood vessels.  He seemed pretty wary of them altogether but I find them valuable in case of an emergency.  It's a problem balancing pain relief with the fear of dependency on anything isn't it?  Since you don't think they're not helping in the long term, maybe cut down as much as you can till you've spoken to a neurologist?
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    • Posted

      I am in my early 40's and ideally I'd love to be free of reliance on Sumatriptan by my 50's. Honestly, the thought of suffering like this for another 7 or so years fills me with horror :-(

      I am looking into alternative therapies. See my other response to the poster above, like hypnotherapy, using Feverfew (ever tried it?) or going to see a chiroptractor or oesteopath. I was told my migraines could be vascular as they originally presented like sinus pain and this is what I was treated for for a few years before a GP ruled it out as I never had the full symptoms for sinus infections and it was mainly sore head pain. Because the triptan worked and I get nausea and dizziness they said it was migraine. So here I am, still no closer to a solution though :-(

      I am going to try and cut them down to two a week to begin with, or 3 at most. Possibly go back on Propranalol, although I'm worried if I do that they might cancel my referral to a neurologoist as where I live you have to have had no success with prevaentative meds to get see one. So ridiculous, I think we'd all prefer to live drug-free wouldn't we? What a dream!

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    • Posted

      Hi again,  I'm sure they won't stop your neurology referral, just do what's best for you and do let us know how you get on.  I know it's difficult to make space in your life for quietness and full recovery when this vascular disease hits but you mustn't feel guilty about prioritising yourself.  Looking back on my own forties I wish I had done that more - it's a mean disease.
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  • Posted

    Hi I went to a migraine, as the same since August lasy year I suffer from daily migraines, my migraine clinic said medication over use, and gave me Naxporen to take 3x, after 4 day's I relapsed, had the worse migraine, and back to Naratriptan.

    I went to see the pain clinic, I informed them I take a triptan every day, they have said I have nerve pain, and  triggers my migraine.     

    I still worry tried cupping that helped, recently I have been looking in to rehabs, and need to go for some assessments and see if they can help, but they are expensive, I also came across a clip on TV Daith piercing, when I research medication over use the research conflicts, I have heard hospital in Bristol, rehab medication over use, im going to look in to that

    I agree, with the replys, I panic all the time do I have enough Triptan, every 2 weeks repeat prescriptions, panic cause they may not give me the prescription, all contributes .

    hope something in my response helps..                                               

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    • Posted

      I have taken Naproxen, which I think is similar, to help with pain before but it didn't help me really. I have heard about Daith piercing and I might consider that at some stage if nothing else works. I am so sick of being reliant on medication and the fact that it's making me worse isn't great. Have tried all kinds of preventative meds but the side effects were so horrific and none of it even worked (apart from Propranalol for a short time). It sucks! I keep hoping they will invent some new cure for it, it affects so many people...
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  • Posted

    Hi Susiebelle, Naxporen does not help me either, I will also consider Daith piercing anything to not take medication

    let us know how you get on

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  • Posted

    Hi Susiebelle

    I have stopped taking Sumatriptan altogether because I know it was actually making things worse. I found that I had got stuck in the same cycle that you describe. When I stopped taking it I had a couple of really terrible migraines and then they gradually decreased in frequency and intensity. I'm now down from 3 or 4 a week to one every two to three weeks. 

    It was really difficult to do and I had to go through agony but I feel that I am much better off now. I'd been taking different triptans for years and things just seemed to be getting worse. 

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