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Hemicrania Continua | Indomethacin


I now take a preventive medicine and so shouldn’t need them again, but as a previous sufferer, I always carry an emergency supply of the drug that treats the pain associated with gout. The fact that all the pain was currently emanating from my head and not one of my big toes was of no concern to me.  Willing to try anything,  a glass of water washed the indomethacin down.  With tears in my eyes, I cradled my head and laid back on the bed.

Indomethacin is from the same family (NSAID) of drugs as Aspirin and Ibuprofen. It’s a prescription only drug that is used to treat severe pain symptoms such as those experienced with Gout/Arthritis.  Unpleasant side effects can and often do develop if the drug is taken over a prolonged period of time. E.g. high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems etc.  For these and many other reasons it is used sparingly.

In-between fleeting thoughts of ambulances and hospital waiting rooms I began to notice the pain subside. The last clear thing I recall was a three o’clock clock.

Jolted awake by the sound of my alarm I felt shattered but extremely thankful there was no sign of the pain from the night before. I skipped breakfast and sat down to provide the final touches to my presentation.

Finally finished there was still two hours to go before my talk at 11am. I reset the alarm and tried to get more sleep. Some 45 minutes later I was awoken not by an alarm but a growing sensation of pain. I started to panic as I considered the consequences of cancelling my talk at this late stage. I gathered my senses and went straight for the indomethacin. I took one and hoped it would be as effective as the one before.

I tried to rationalise what was happening. What if this was not the pain of a new headache but a continuation of the same? Maybe the pain-relieving effects of the indomethacin I had taken had simply worn off and the same pain was now representing? I didn’t have time to think, I headed downstairs to the function room to prepare for my presentation. All the time wishing that the pain relief would not only be as effective as before but also in time. Fifteen minutes to go and thankfully the pain had all but gone.

Three hours later I was welcoming applause from the assembled audience but my thoughts immediately returned to my headache. The pain I experienced in the morning hadn’t been as intense as the night before which made me think I had caught the pain in time. My thoughts were leaning towards a single headache whose presence was being masked by the Indomethacin. I would soon be able to test my theory.

From my experience with gout, I knew that the pain relief from Indomethacin lasted roughly 6-8 hours and by my reckoning, if the headache was one of the same it should start to show through between 4 and 6 pm. Like clockwork, the pain arrived at 5:30 pm.



  1. babs123
    May 4, 2017

    I’m unable to take Indomethacin as I’ve suffered with a gastric ulcer in the past. Now been told by my headache specialist not to ever take a pain killer, even paracetamol. My HC started 4 years ago suffering approx 20 days a month. On the Gammacore trial at the moment and have benefitted from it. Will certainly give this breathing technique a go. Oh for a pain free life…..would be bliss xx

  2. Krista
    Mar 23, 2016

    My 10 y.o. daughter was had a constant headache for 5 months. At it’s worse 10/10 she was vomiting and staying in bed. She was hospitalized for 14 days trying different medicines. It is always on her left side with horrible left ear pain too. I am not sure if her stuffy/runny nose is significant enough to count. She has been on topamax, Elavil, Propranolol, to name a few. Advil and Aleve take it from 7/10 to 5/10, but no lower. After reading this I will be asking about Indometacin. Knowing if it works immediately instead of waiting months for no results sounds great. The side effect seem way better than the anti-seizure and blood pressure meds they have been trying. I am optimistically hopeful. Glad I found your blog.

    • mark
      Mar 23, 2016

      I wish you and your daughter the very best of luck.


  3. Amy Miller
    Mar 16, 2016

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for your blog – I too have found indomethacin to be instrumental in managing my pain. I have had progressive head/neck pain, all on the right side emanating from the right base of my skull, for over 10 years. So many doctors, therapists, chiropractors, etc and no relief. It went away for months at a time at one point but the past couple of years the pain has been relentless. Finally yet another new doctor prescribed indomethacin, and due to its complete success in doing away with my pain, I was diagnosed with HC. This has all been within the past month, so I am fairly new to the drug. I am hopeful that I can take it long term, as I have not yet experienced any side effects. However, it is great to know of your natural treatment; it will be in my back pocket should I ever need it. Thanks again!

  4. Patrick
    Dec 9, 2012

    No not yet. It seems like i would be trading one masking drug for another, but with worse side effects. Lete know if im wrong. Im averaging 8 ibuprofren a day right now. Thank you patrick

    • mark
      Dec 11, 2012

      The only thing that worked for me was Indomethacin, I was concerned about the potential long term use and side effects but I was terrified of one day not being able to continue taking it. Living with the headaches without pain relief did not appear as an option to me. I am pleased I never had to test that scenario long term.

      If you have not tried indomethacin and you do have HC you should definitely give it a go. It always provided me with full pain relief but for the rare mistimed dose.


    • vsweets
      Oct 15, 2013

      Hi Mark,

      Great blog !! I’ had been doing a lot of reading about HC as my mother suffers from it for about 1 yr now, she used Indomethacin for about 8 months but could no longer tolerate it as the GI side effects were horrible even with taking Omeprazole. Luckily we stumbled upon your website and seen there was a response to you from a headache specialist Dr. Eric Eross in AZ, about an all natural alternative called Gliacin a backup for Indomethacin, we read a bit more about it. We decided to order it and lo and behold it worked for her !! she is so happy we stumbled upon this awesome information!!! I hope others will stumble upon this as we did.
      Indomethacin has such scary side effects

      Everything happens for a reason.

      Thank you Mark for your blog & Thank you Dr. Eric Eross for the Gliacin wonder

  5. Patrick
    Dec 8, 2012

    I have to say it is a relief to finally have a name for what I’ve been suffering from for 5 years now. Its good to hear about other peoples stories that sound just like mine. I will try to keep it short.
    My headaches started in Octoberish of 2007. I can’t remember a specific date of the first onset although I have always felt like I should have. I just remember realizing at some point that Excedrin has become a huge part of my life and I have the same dull headache in my left temple every day. Which I quickly realized would get extremely worse without medication Excedrin or Ibuprofren.
    Since then I have been to optamalogists, optometrists, neuro-optamalogists, neurologists, massage therapists, chiropractors, physicians, acupuncturists, and have grown tired of getting the same responses as when I tell a friend. “That sucks man, I could not deal with something like that.” At least thats what it seems like to me. All doctors have thrown something at it and then gave up. Which I have done as well, giving up on exercising, reading for long periods, and in general trying not to focus or exert myself as much as possible throughout the day. Certain things I cannot stop like my two boys, my wife, and my job. Ibuprofren, Excedrin, hot showers, and sleep have been my only reliefs.
    Recently I had come to the conclusion that I have TMJ and will have to undergo surgery at some point and hopefully that would work. I have now drawn a new conclusion and am awaiting a watermelon to restart my life.
    I hope everyone here is able to find a cure and or healing from HC.
    Mark, thank you for this website. I hope your pains stays away and I look forward to owing you one!


    • mark
      Dec 8, 2012

      Thanks for your comments Patrick. Have you tried Indomethacin yet?


  6. karen.m.jones
    Jun 19, 2012

    Hi Mark, I just came across your website whilst trying to research HC. Ive been diagnosed with migraine for over 20 years but in the past 4-5 years its been so bad Ive been treated, with no success, for chronic severe migraine. However, Ive just realied with this last episode over the past 6 weeks, although it has some migraine symptoms, it really isnt like migraine at all. My neurologist in Stoke has suggested Indometacin for primary stabbing headache, which I didnt think was a correct diagnosis either. Looking more into it, and your account of HC, I am certain I have HC and have probably been misdiagnosed for years! Did you get any side effects from indometacin? Ive got terrible fatigue and weakness, could be the drug or underlying pain though I suppose? Are you still symptom free? Thanks for sharing your experience with HC and I do hope its the end of it for you. I hope finally getting a diagnosis will help me too after so many years of my life being disrupted! Take care, Karen. Oh, and I will be trying your pain relief method :)

    • mark
      Jun 19, 2012

      Hi Karen,

      I’m happy you found my website useful.

      I personally had no side effects with Indomethacin but the results were
      excellent as my pain was 100% masked by the drug. I had breakthrough pain
      if I mistimed a meal or dose.

      You should also take something like Omeprazole to counter the potential
      stomach side effects as it can be quite harsh on the digestive system.
      Please mention this to your doctor if he hasn’t already prescribed
      something like this for you.

      I am still symptom free almost 18 months later.

      I wish you the very best.


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