Treatment of post-electroconvulsive therapy headache with topical methyl salicylate

J ECT. 2012 Jun;28(2):e17-8. doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e318245c640.


Headache after administration of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is common, affecting approximately half of patients treated. Post-ECT headache is typically treated with acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but occasionally requires agents such as sumatriptan, opioids, or β-blockers. We report on a patient whose severe post-ECT headaches responded completely to methyl salicylate ointment, applied to the area of his temporalis and masseter muscles. Topical methyl salicylate is generally well tolerated and may be a viable option for some patients with post-ECT headache.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Headache / drug therapy*
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Ketorolac / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Ointments
  • Salicylates / administration & dosage*
  • Salicylates / therapeutic use*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Ointments
  • Salicylates
  • methyl salicylate
  • Ketorolac