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Traveling to See a Headache Disorders Specialist

We know through research that the few Headache Disorders specialists we have in the United States are geographically concentrated in just a few areas. As a result, the reality is that many of us will need to travel to get the kind of care we need and deserve.

Like many of you, I live in a Headache Disorders specialist desert. Having been through the experience of traveling to see a specialist myself, I’d like to share some information about what to expect and offer my tips based on what I learned through the process.

First things first, why should you consider traveling if there aren’t any Headache Disorders specialists in your geographical area? To receive the best possible care for Migraine, it is essential that you see a doctor who is an expert in the condition. A common mistaken belief about finding a doctor for Migraine is that you should see a neurologist. Many physicians who specialize in treating people with Headache Disorders are neurologists. But not every neurologist has special expertise and experience with Headache Disorders patients.

Finding a Headache Disorders Specialist

Trying to find the right doctor can be so intimidating and frustrating. I look at narrowing down the possible options it as a three-step process.

1. Look at lists of recommended specialists. Two great sources are:

2. Consider geographic location and your budget. Use travel distance and travel cost to narrow down the names on those lists. If you can travel a couple of hours by car you can do the trip rather economically. For those of us in certain parts of the country, that isn’t an option at all, so we have to budget for hotels, flights, etc.

3. Talk to other patients. Utilize forums, Facebook groups and Twitter to connect with other Migraineurs. Ask them if they have experience with any of the doctors you’re interested in trying. Try to get as many opinions as you can from people you respect. We’re happy to tell you what we know about a given doctor at the members-only American Headache and Migraine Association forum.

Planning Your Trip

Ask the physician’s staff for help with your travel arrangements. Many clinics and offices regularly see out of town patients and already have information available to help you find a nearby, affordable hotel and decide which airport to use.

You can expect to get an idea in advance of what your visit will be like, too. Every clinic or office does things slightly differently, but you’ll want to find out how long they want you to stay in the area for evaluation and/or treatment before you can make travel arrangements and determine if a loved one can make the trip with you.

Finally, make sure you ask if the clinic or office takes your insurance or any insurance at all. Don’t put yourself in the situation of arriving and being surprised by the clinic not accepting your insurance, the need for referrals required by your insurance company, being asked to pay a certain portion of your bill on the spot or other potential money-related snafus.

If you have questions about traveling to see a specialist generally or my personal experience, please share them in the comments.

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.


  • Pete
    6 years ago

    A bit of a caution- when I traveled out of state, I ALWAYS got the ‘you must check in now and stay for two weeks’, regardless of what I had told them before (#1- had a trial the next day and could not stay; #2 (disabled by this time) “I don’t want the bum’s rush and push to stay as the first things you say”- they agreed this was offensive, took my info and recommended exactly what I had said not to do). These were two of the largest, most well-known specialty clinics in the Midwest.
    FYI- I got the most help from an anesthesiologist, who left pain control after a family medical emergency. Have seen 15-20 neurologists/neurosurgeons; orthopods, chiros, allergists, etc.4 clinics.

  • silvermoon
    6 years ago

    I went to a headache specialist at a well-known clinic in the state I live in a number of years ago, traveling a great distance for their expertise due to my chronic headaches. It was the most disappointing medical appointment I have ever been at regarding my migraine history! After a very brief appointment, the doctor announced I have chronic migraines and if I ever want to disco tinge medication, their facility has a support program available. If I were to make a choice like that, I would have to pursue disability as I would not be able to work because I would spend so much time each month suffering! He offered a couple other medication suggestions and told me to follow up with my local neurologist. So, my advice is to be careful about headache specialists too. I had finally thought I would receive specialized care, but it was not to be.

  • brainpain22
    6 years ago

    I like checking the stories on I relate to many of them and I am always looking for a better answer. However, finding a doctor to help with the treatment of my chronic migraines have been more than frustrating. I listened to all the forums and actually found a specialist who took our insurance. I did everything he told me to do…but things did not turn out well. He wanted all my meds changed, since no one ever did this before, I tried, the migraines got worse…more often, more intensity. He was not kind when it came to acute meds and eventually I lost my job because I had side effects from the new meds, but he said I had to keep trying them to find the best combination so I did. And this last part is true but I also knew that there was medication that I could have taken and been at work. He told me I would have to accept I might not be able to do the same things I use to. Does that pay my bills? So frustrating, and like I said, he is a specialist…still listed as one of the few in our state. I did my homework on him. Checked out his credentials, papers etc. I should have gone with my gut after a shorter period of time. Going through pain like we do is unacceptable, but we all do it every day because of the studies that are out there and because of the stigma that is still stuck to every patient who goes to ER. I just had to find a new neurologist so my family doctor is prescribing my meds…of course he does not like what I am on so he wants to change them. Also, I told him I went to ER two weeks ago. You should have seen his disapproving face when he asked me what they gave me. The minute I said diluadid, he started shaking his head. I usually only have to go to the ER once a year so I don’t see a problem…I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t do drugs, and until about 18 months ago my eating habits were very healthy…why should I live in pain? To get the stigma from my own family doctor…I was kind of shocked!! I’m just saying. FYI…all the studies that say there shows that say 60-70% participants improve with say triptans….what about the other 30-40%? What are they suppose to do?

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