Severe Migraine Specialist Shortage Limits Care

Severe Migraine Specialist Shortage Limits Care

To receive the best possible treatment for Migraine Disease, it is essential for patients to be under the care of a doctor who specializes in treating patients with headache disorders. Unfortunately, there are very few of them overall and access can be even more limited based on where you live in the United States.

At the 2013 International Headache Congress, researchers presented information about the number of headache disorders specialists, the expected numbers of patients living with episodic and chronic Migraine in the US and the ratios of doctors and patients both overall and on a state-by-state basis.

The United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) certifies physicians with special expertise and knowledge in treatment of headache disorders. As of the time of the research study, there were 416 UCNS-certified headache specialists practicing in the entire United States. Physicians who want to become UCNS certified are required to have completed an accredited fellowship and sit for the UCNS exam.

The research team projects the total US Migraine population of people ages 12+ will be 11.79% of the total population. This equates to 416 specialists to treat more than 30 million Migraineurs. The expected chronic Migraine population of people ages 12+ will be 0.91% of the total population. This equate to 416 specialists to treat more than two million people with chronic Migraine.

But the state-by-state analysis is probably more important information because as patients we need access to the specialists that do exist and geography is a huge barrier.

The states with the most specialists are:

  • New York (56)
  • California (29)
  • Ohio (29)
  • Texas (25)
  • Florida (24)
  • Pennsylvania (23)

The states with the best specialist to patient ratios are:

  • District of Columbia
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Nebraska

After states with zero specialists, the states with the worst specialist to patient ratios are:

  • Oregon
  • Mississippi
  • Arkansas
  • Kansas

The researchers call for more accredited fellowships as one of the most important ways to increase the number of UCNS-certified headache specialists. Many stakeholders also believe if more research funding is allocated to Migraine and headache disorders more talented physicians will be motivated to enter the field.1

Find the list of doctors who are UCNS-certified in Headache Medicine at this link:

UCNS Diplomates in Headache Medicine

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