Living with Migraine disease and other Headache disorders presents us with many challenges, including finding a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable enough to be able to help us. Many of us discover that we really must find a Migraine specialist. Unfortunately, finding one isn’t always easy.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report revealed a startling statistic that explains part of the problem, a lack of medical school education on Migraine and other Headache disorders:
“Worldwide, formal undergraduate medical training included just four hours about headache and Migraine; specialist training included 10 hours.”
If our doctors are lacking in knowledge and experience, run out of ideas for our treatment, or tell us there are no treatment options left, it’s time to find a Migraine specialist. There are two places I recommend checking to find a Migraine specialist:
- The American Migraine Foundation’s Find Help search. This search will lead you to both UCNS certified specialists and excellent specialists who aren’t certified. You can search for certified specialists only or all specialists, by name or state.
- The Migraine Research Foundation’s listing of certified specialists. They also have a link to a list of specialists for children.
- Unfortunately, some doctors call themselves Migraine and Headache specialists when, in fact, they have no more knowledge or experience than the “average” doctor. This is one reason I recommend the links above to find a Migraine specialist.
- Neurologists aren’t necessarily Migraine and Headache specialists, and Migraine and Headache specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists.
- The United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) now offers certification in “Headache medicine.” UCNS certification is relatively new. Specialists sit for an exam in “Headache medicine” and must pass it for certification. There are some good specialists who aren’t UCNS certified because they’ve been in practice long enough that they choose not to sit for the exam.
- When we call for a first appointment with a specialist, there’s nothing wrong with asking about their qualifications.
There’s a shortage of qualified Migraine and Headache specialists, so many of us have to travel to see one. Having been in that position, I know quite well how daunting it is. My husband and I spent nearly five years taking two days and driving eight hours each direction so I could see my first Migraine specialist. It truly was the turning point in getting my Migraines managed, so it was well worth it.
- World Health Organization, Lifting the Burden. “Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011.” Geneva. World Health Organization. May, 2011.