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Everyone gets a headache occasionally, and most go away alone or with over-the-counter pain relievers. But if your headaches are severe and frequent, you may need a Headache Specialist MN for headache disorders.
To diagnose your headaches, a neurologist will do a physical exam and ask about your family history of migraines or other health conditions. They will also use imaging tests and other diagnostic tools.
If you have recurrent headaches that interfere with your daily activities, you may need to be referred to a specialist. Your PCP can refer you to a headache specialist or neurology practice that specializes in headache disorders. Your doctor will want to know your previous health history and the severity of your current headaches. They will also need to know if your headaches have a trigger, such as a certain food, drink, or activity. You can help your doctor identify the source of your headache by keeping a headache diary, including when the headaches occur and what seems to relieve or worsen them.
Your headache specialist may order lab tests, like blood or spinal fluid test, to check for infection and other health conditions that can cause headaches as a symptom. They can also order an imaging test such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to show the structures in your head and neck. These tests can reveal blood vessel or bone irregularities, a brain tumor, or other medical conditions that can cause headache.
Most headache specialists are neurologists who have completed a fellowship program in headache medicine, but other licensed physicians can also treat your headaches. Some have special interest in headache disorders and spend time attending meetings and continuing education to stay abreast of advances in the field.
The physicians first integrated academic multidisciplinary center focused on headache care and pain relief, are trained in diagnosing the type and underlying causes of your headache. They have extensive experience in treating all types of chronic headache and can help you regain control over your life and your health. They are led by renowned authorities in the fields of medicine, neuroscience, pain management, and psychiatry. The center serves patients from the five boroughs and Long Island.
Most people get headaches from time to time, and often these are not serious. They may go away on their own or with over-the-counter pain relievers. However, some people have recurring headaches that interfere with daily activities and require medical treatment. These are called primary headache disorders. A neurologist or other health care specialist trained in evaluating and treating headache can help diagnose the cause and provide the best possible treatment.
If you suffer from recurrent headaches that affect your daily life, ask your doctor for a referral to a headache specialist. Your healthcare provider will consider your symptoms, family history, and physical examination to determine if you have a primary headache disorder or another condition that causes headaches.
A neurologist who specializes in migraines, tension and cluster headaches can perform a neurological exam to check for underlying problems. He or she will also recommend an imaging test to find the source of the problem. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans use a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the brain and blood vessels. Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images of the body’s bones, muscles, fat and organs.
An ophthalmologist can treat headaches that are caused by eye diseases or conditions, such as glaucoma. These include vision changes, sensitivity to light, and weakness or numbness.
Health care specialists who are trained in musculoskeletal conditions may also be helpful in managing headaches that result from neck or spine problems. These include osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists. These specialists can help correct misalignments in the neck or spine and teach you exercises to reduce recurrent headaches caused by poor posture and muscle tension.
A neurosurgeon who specializes in disorders of the brain and nervous system can also be helpful in recurrent headaches that do not respond to medications. They can offer options like deep brain stimulation, in which wires inserted inside the brain relay electrical pulses to target stubborn pain. Other medical procedures that can be used to treat recurrent headaches include peripheral nerve stimulation, in which electrodes are placed on the skin to deliver pain-relieving pulses, and sinus surgery for otolaryngologists who are concerned about a type of headache known as vestibular migraine, which causes dizziness.
Almost everyone gets a headache from time to time, but for some people, these are debilitating. If you experience headaches frequently and they interfere with your work, life or activities, talk to your primary care doctor about seeing a headache specialist.
Headache specialists have a range of tools, including injections, that can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. These tools are often part of a larger headache strategy, which may include lifestyle changes and prevention strategies.
Sleep, hydration and exercise are often cited as preventive measures for migraines. Getting enough sleep, avoiding napping during the day, and establishing a consistent schedule for going to bed and rising can all help ease headache symptoms. In addition, eating a balanced diet, limiting foods that trigger headaches, and being mindful of food and drink triggers are key to prevention.
Stress, anxiety and depression can also trigger headaches. Behavioral management techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and relaxation training can be effective for some people. A psychologist can provide support to help you cope with chronic pain.
Certain medical conditions can also lead to recurrent headaches, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), menstrual migraines and ocular migraines, which cause pain and visual disturbances in the eyes. An ophthalmologist can monitor and treat symptoms of ocular migraines, while an ENT (ears, nose and throat) doctor can help with ocular migraines and other causes of pain in the ears, nose and throat.
Some people find that migraines run in their family, and they have a genetic tendency toward them. Other triggering factors may be environmental, such as changes in light or weather. For this reason, people with a family history of migraines may want to consider regular bloodwork screening for a genetic tendency toward the condition. In addition, it’s wise for women to talk to their primary care provider about getting screened for menstrual migraines, as these can be triggered by hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. These women can also ask their gynecologists about a prescription for a triptan, which is an anti-migraine medication.
Headaches are experienced by essentially everyone at some point in their lives, and most can be treated with rest and simple over-the-counter medications. However, patients with persistent, severe headaches need more than reassurance and medicine. They require concerned and knowledgeable clinicians who can teach them strategies to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Often, the first step in finding a headache specialist is to ask your regular doctor for a referral. You may also want to look at your insurance company’s website to see if it lists headache specialists, and you can call the company for a referral. You can also check the American Migraine Foundation’s Find a Health Care Professional page to find doctors who specialize in headache disorders.
Once you’ve found a headache specialist, he or she can diagnose the type of headache you have using medical and neurological exams and imaging tests. Then, he or she can create a treatment plan to reduce your headaches and associated symptoms. This may include medication, nerve block procedures, acupuncture, stress management, or physical therapy.
If you have a chronic headache disorder, your neurologist may also help you establish preventive measures by creating a journal that details when you experience your pain, what causes it, and how it affects your life. This can help you identify what changes to make in your lifestyle to improve your headaches, such as drinking more water, eating fewer foods that trigger them, and getting eight hours of sleep each night.
In addition to neurologists, your headache specialist might consult experts in brain, spine and nervous system surgery (neurosurgeons), brain and spinal imaging (neuroradiologists) or dental specialties as needed. They might even recommend the use of devices such as deep brain stimulation, where wires inserted inside your head relay electrical pulses to target stubborn pain, or peripheral nerve stimulation, which involves electrodes placed on or under your skin in the area of the headache.