Headache is one of the most common medical complaints. The great majority of patients with headache have a primary headache disorder.
Although tension-type headache is by far the most common headache type, the vast majority of patients seeking medical care have migraine.
About 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headache. Approximately one in four households in America has a family member with migraine.
The Washington University Headache Center evaluates and treats patients with headache disorders including but not limited to migraine, tension-type headache, cluster headache, new daily persistent headache, and thunderclap headache. Patients seen at the Washington University Headache Center require a referral from a physician.
Referrals to the Washington University Headache Center can be made by calling (314) 362-7241.
Indications for Referral to the Headache Center
Patients and their physicians should consider referral to a headache specialty clinic for several reasons including:
- a high frequency of headaches,
- when headaches are causing significant suffering,
- when the diagnosis of a headache disorder is unclear, and
- when treatment results have been unsatisfactory.
Patient medical records of the last two office visits, labs and test results, are required and can be faxed to (314) 362-0338.
Migraine headaches are moderate to severe in intensity, and may endure for four to 72 hours. They are pulsating in quality, aggravated by routine physical activity, and associated with sensitivity to light, sounds, smells. They may be associated with nausea and/or vomiting. Some patients have a preceding aura most commonly manifested as visual phenomena. If migraine headaches occur very frequently, 15 days per month or more, chronic migraine may be the diagnosis.
Treatments for Migraine and Other Types of Headache
About two-thirds of migraine sufferers seek medical care in a primary care setting with about 15% being cared for in a headache specialty center. Although there have been substantial improvements in regards to the diagnosis and treatment of migraine, it is still underdiagnosed and undertreated with about half of migraine sufferers remaining undiagnosed.
Currently available treatments can significantly reduce the pain and disability associated with this common disorder.
Depending on the headache type and frequency of headaches, treatment plans may include avoidance of headache triggers, preventative medications, acute headache medications, physical therapy, and biobehavioral treatments such as biofeedback and relaxation therapy.
Patients are often asked to maintain a headache diary in order to document the frequency and characteristics of their headaches and the treatments used.
Clinical Research Trials
Participation in clinical research trials is available for qualifying headache patients. This includes trials examining the prevention and acute treatment of headache. Through participation in clinical trials, patients may have access to new and experimental therapies that would otherwise be unavailable at this time. For more information on clinical trials, click on the Volunteer for Health link.