Could a Headache Specialist Help You?

Doctor and nurse working with MRI brain scans seen through interactive display
If you are struggling to cope with your headaches and haven’t seen a headache specialist, it might be worthwhile to ask your GP for a referral. A recent study has shown that a consultation with a headache specialist can significantly improve a patient’s suffering.

Despite the significant on the economy and society due to lost workdays and reduced efficiency while at work, relatively few people with troublesome headaches consult their doctor. Fewer still are referred to a headache specialist. This may be due to a lack of awareness of available headache treatments; patients may think they have to suffer in silence. But, according to the report published in the July 2003 issue of Headache, “patient satisfaction is increasingly being appreciated as an important outcome of specialist assessment for headache.”

The study, involving 944 Norwegian headache patients, shows that patients referred for headache generally experiences a significant reduction in headache. As well their perceived quality of life is significantly increased after a consultation with a neurologist. The likelihood of experiencing significant relief of headache after a specialist consultation is increased if the patient receives a diagnosis. Finally, the patient experiences an even greater reduction in suffering if they are prescribed treatment, most often being a drug prescription or physiotherapy.

The researchers conclude, “Understanding the background and possible causes for the headache makes it easier for patients to manage their symptoms.”