Wednesday, February 20, 2019

5 Reasons To Hire a Headache Specialist

Since being diagnosed with chronic migraine over 17 years ago, I cannot tell you the countless doctors I have consulted. Multiple Primary Care Doctors and those in Internal Medicine, an Ophthalmologist, an Optometrist, several regular Neurologists, and Doctors in Functional and Holistic Medicine. The list goes on. There is a place for many of these type of doctors in your headache and migraine care, I know because I utilize several. However, if your headaches or migraines are disrupting your life and work, you have chronic migraines/headaches (15 or more headache days a month), or intractable migraines, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to find a doctor who specializes in headache medicine. This is not just a regular Neurologist, this is a Neurologist who has had EXTRA, specialized training including certifications in headache medicine.

Headache is one of the top reasons people visit the doctor every year, which is interesting because most regular doctors only get 4-10 hours of training in headache medicine during medical school. I have seen a few of these and trust me, they were not helpful. There are also many self-proclaimed Headache Specialists who just have a special interest in the area of headaches, but have not undergone the specialized training. I have seen two of these in Indianapolis and they did very little for me. 

Here are 5 reasons you should consider hiring a Headache Specialist:

1. Headache specialists go through extra training to become certified in headache medicine. They also usually do an extra year in residency training under some of the top headache specialists in the US at a headache clinic. These people have already seen hundreds of the most chronic headache and migraine patients before finishing residency and they have learned from the best in their field.

2. Headache specialists are always on top of the latest treatments, drugs, and new research. Most of them travel to conferences and seminars on a regular basis to learn what is up and coming for migraine treatment, so they can then offer these treatments to their patients. They will also be the first to get new drugs and treatments, sometimes with free samples.

3. You can get in on a new drug trial if you want because headache specialists always have the latest information on current migraine drug trials.

4. Headache Specialists understand when you have had a debilitating migraine for 7 days and need some acute treatment. They will often try to keep you out of the ER, by pulling you into the office for infusions, trigger points, nerve blocks, etc. When I have seen Neurologists who did not specialize in headaches, I would sometimes wait DAYS for a returned call and would just end up getting sent to the ER anyway. I am so thankful for my doctor who will pull me in on a day or two notice to help me break a bad cycle.

5. Because headache specialists see people just like us everyday, you will never be treated like migraine is a psychological disease, because it isn't.  Headache Specialists are often very understanding and empathetic to the debilitating disease which migraine is. Some of them also struggle with it themselves. Headache Specialists are also very well versed in the fact that everyone responds to treatment differently, and there is not a one treatment fits all.

There are about 500 Headache Specialists in the United States currently which is definitely not a lot
when you consider that 2.5 million people in the US struggle with some type of headache disorder. Several states do not have a Headache Specialist which may mean you are committing to some extensive travel. I drive three hours to see Dr. Kevin Weber at OSU Neurology in Columbus, Ohio who trained and did his fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Headache Center. He is the best doctor I have ever had, and it is 100% worth the drive.

To find a Headache Specialist in your area, please visit the Migraine Research Foundation  or go to the links on my Resource page.

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