How to really find a headache specialist

I have a great headache doctor. In fact, I have two. Both have helped dramatically reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of my migraine and cluster attacks. I recommend them to local migraineurs all the time.

If I had relied solely on UCNS certification, or even the physician finder tools at the American Headache Society (AHS) or the National Headache Foundation (NHF), I would have never found them. They’re not in any directory. If I had stopped with a simple search, I might believe that there were no doctors who could help me.

Search results

Just because I was curious, I searched for doctors within a 100 mile radius of my home using the AHS and NHF physician finders. When searching specifically for headache specialists, I found one pediatric specialist. When I broadened my search to all neurologists, I got back 3 results. One was a doctor whose reputation I do not trust as I have had bad experiences with his clinic partners. The other two were unknown to me. None of the doctors in either of the two clinics I use were listed. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that no one could help me.

The other problem with the physician finders was that it limited me to a maximum search radius of 100 miles. That’s such a narrow window! If I didn’t already know about it, I would have missed out on an amazing headache clinic just 172 mile southeast of my home. The director is Dr. Roger Cady and he is a UCNS certified headache specialist. Also, there is a headache clinic at the University of Kansas hospital just 30 minutes from my home. None of these doctors are found on the physician finder tools at UCNS, National Headache Foundation or the American Headache Society.

Don’t stop with an online search

Checking these physician finders is a great first start. Many people discover a doctor who is just right for them. However, if you don’t find what you are looking for, don’t stop there.

You can also:

  • Ask friends and family with Migraine for the name of their doctor.
  • Ask for referrals from your PCP, your dentist, your chiropractor, etc.
    *That’s how I found my headache specialist.
  • Call local hospitals for a physician referral
  • Check with your insurance provider. Ask for a list of neurologists, then start checking out their credentials. Call up and interview the scheduling nurse to see how many headache patients he/she sees and what specialized training the doctor has in headache medicine.
    *This is how I found the doctor who referred me for sleep apnea testing.
  • Visit the websites of devices and procedures or search reputable websites to learn more about a specific procedure or find a list of doctors qualified to utilize the therapy.
    *I found my Botox doctor by using the physician finder on the Botox website for chronic migraine.
    • Botox for chronic migraine
    • Cefaly external neurostim
    • Sphenocath SPG block
    • ElectroCore vagus nerve stimulation clinical trials
    • Nerve decompression surgery
    • Peripheral nerve stimulation implants
    • Patent foramen ovale closure

Don’t give up.

Do not ever believe that there is no one available who can help. If you don’t find what you are looking for, keep searching. Sometimes the brightest gems are buried the deepest.

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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.

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