Looking for a good doctor to work with as a Migraine treatment partner?
One of the first things a Migraineur needs to know is that neurologists aren't necessarily Migraine and Headache specialists, and Migraine and Headache specialists aren't necessarily neurologists.
It's no wonder that most doctors know little about Migraine and treating it. A WHO report revealed that non-specialist doctors get just four hours of medical school education on Migraine and all other Headache disorders combined. Neurologists get just 10.
Migraine and Headache Specialists
There are, however, doctors who specialize in "Headache medicine," the field that includes Migraine. These doctors usually see mostly Migraine and Headache patients and most attend continuing education events in the field on a regular basis. Several years ago, the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) established a subspecialty in "Headache medicine." To be a UCNS Migraine and Headache specialist, doctors must sit for and pass an exam. There are currently 520 UNCS certified Headache medicine specialists in the U.S.
There are also some good specialists who are not UCNS certified. Most of these doctors had been in practice for many years when certification began and chose not to sit for the exam.
If you need help finding a Migraine specialist, here are two good places to start:
If you're looking around online, you'll see conversations about Migraine and Headache Clinics. There are several excellent clinics in the U.S. That said, clinics usually have several doctors on staff. What truly makes the biggest difference in terms of Migraine management is having a doctor with whom we can work as treatment partners, it's best to choose a specific doctor you want to see as opposed to calling a clinic and getting an appointment that's not with a specific doctor whom you've chosen.
Specialists Close to Home
With only 520 certified specialists in the U.S., we won't always find one in our hometown or very close to home. There are states with no specialists, and states with several. Many Migraineurs have to travel significant distances to see a specialist, but improved Migraine management makes that travel worthwhile. After the first appointment, follow-up appointments are often three months apart, so the travel may be necessary only four or five times a year.