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Migraine Management Essential 1: Diagnosis and Doctors

Migraine diagnosis:
What type or types of Migraines do you have? If the only diagnosis you’ve been given is Migraine, the diagnosis is incomplete

There are several types of Migraines, and it’s important to know which types you have. Migraine without aura is the most common, followed by Migraine with aura. Most people who have Migraine with aura also have Migraine without aura. There also subtypes of Migraine with aura — basilar-type Migraine, sporadic hemiplegic Migraine, and familial hemiplegic Migraine. There are also other types of Migraine, retinal Migraine and abdominal Migraine.

Why we need to know what type(s) of Migraine we have:
One reason we need to know what type or types of Migraine we have is related to which medications we can use when a Migraine strikes. Triptans (Imitrex or generic sumatriptan, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge or generic naratriptan, Relpax, Axert, Frova, and Treximet) and ergotamines (DHE-45 and Migranal Nasal Spray) are usually not prescribed for basilar-type Migraine. They’re usually not prescribed for hemiplegic Migraine either, but one small study in which participants with Hemiplegic Migraine were given triptans did not show any problems. Especially if we have different types of Migraines, it’s important to know what they are and be able to identify them when they occur. We can’t call our doctors every time we have a Migraine, so we have to determine which medication to take and when to take it.

We also need to know what type of Migraine we have because they’re less frightening when we understand more. If you’ve never been told what type of Migraines you have, ask your doctor. If your doctor can’t answer the question, it may be time to consider a new doctor.

The right doctor:
Whether we’re dealing with Migraine disease or another disease, the right doctor is integral to good disease management, feeling better, and a better quality of life. We need to be proactive about managing our Migraines, so the right doctor is one who wants to work with us as treatment partners. We need doctors who will lay out all of our options, then make decisions with us, not for us.

In some cases, family doctors can help with Migraine management. In other cases, neurologists can help. In some cases, however, we need a specialist who regularly participates in continuing medical education about Migraine and has gained valuable experience by limiting his or her practice to Migraine and other headache disorders — a Migraine and headache specialist.

If you think you need a new doctor, or if you’re curious or unsure, you can find more information in my post Is It Time for a New Migraine Doctor?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Jennifer Dingman
    8 years ago


    9 years ago

    Whether we’re dealing with Migraine disease or another disease, the right doctor is integral to good disease management, feeling better, and a better quality of life. Helpful tips from Teri Robert on getting a proper diagnosis and finding the right doctor.

    9 years ago

    Barb-Glad you have the medication you need but please be careful of medication overuse headache:

  • Barb Moos
    9 years ago

    having chronic terrible migraines lately.Wish they would go away.Insurance only allows you 9 pills a month.Luckily I had stocked up on medicine in the months I didn’t have any.

  • Andrea Thomas Krohn
    9 years ago

    I am still unsure of my neurologist. I went to a great Headache Clinic a few years ago, but we have since changed health insurance. The new insurance is not accepted there. I want to give this doctor a fair shot, because he does have some good ideas, like Botox. I am trying to be a good patient, by writing down notes, asking questions, and following his directions. I guess I will give him a little time to see if he can get these headaches under control.

  • Elizabeth Washam Reitzel
    9 years ago

    i hope to soon find the right doctor…i got a doozy of a migraine right now…

  • Cathy Ashenfelter Christensen
    9 years ago

    My neurologist asks my opinion, involves “me”. He wants to know what I’ve read about or you know…it’s my “migraines”, I chart them, keep detailed track of them, so he knows and I remember (that can be tough). I am really thankful for who I was referred to. He’s really caring.

  • Amy Strohauer
    9 years ago

    Opps haha: )

  • Amy Strohauer
    9 years ago

    I can’t wait till I can get some of those cards: ))

  • Teri-Robert author
    9 years ago

    I used to ask myself that question too, Debbie. I’ll tell you what really turned things around for me — getting myself to a real Migraine specialists. Take a look at Is It Time for a New Migraine Doctor at

  • debieflygare
    9 years ago

    Living with migraine’s is the worth thing in the world to me. I often ask myself can I do this for the rest of my life?

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