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Your Guide to Preventing Migraines

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Telemedicine and Migraine: Can Virtual Appointments Help?

Medically Reviewed By Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH

Telemedicine services, such as digital prescriptions and video calls with doctors, can help treat migraine. Many people also find telehealth convenient, which may help you stay on top of your condition. Telehealth, or telemedicine, refers to using technology to receive healthcare services remotely.

Many telehealth services can help with the treatment of migraine. Options include:

  • online forms and messaging services with your medical team
  • video or audio call appointments
  • digital prescriptions sent to you or a local pharmacy
  • digital symptom tracking, using online forms or apps

Telehealth also helps you save time and money.

Benefits of telehealth for migraine

Someone sits on a balcony with a laptop on their laps.
Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa/Getty Images

Telemedicine services can offer benefits for migraine care.

Remote diagnosis and treatment

In some cases, doctors may be able to diagnose headache disorders Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source remotely, such as migraine. A medical team can also use telehealth to recommend treatments and check your progress.

Still, medical teams may use Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source a mix of telehealth and in-person care for diagnosis and treatment.

Convenient access

The benefits of telehealth Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source allow you to avoid traveling for in-person care and saving you time, effort, and money. Also, digital records and tracking keep you updated on your symptoms, condition, and treatment plan.

Some say these benefits may even lead to better migraine management and outcomes. However, more research is needed.

Support during illness

Migraine symptoms may make it hard to travel or attend in-person services.

Telehealth provides care wherever you have access to technology, and you may find it easier to get support during a migraine episode.

High quality care

In addition to convenience, telehealth may offer high quality care.

A 2023 Chinese study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggested that telephone and internet messaging services are safe and effective for migraine management.

A 2021 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source also reported that headache diagnosis and care during the COVID-19 pandemic led to high satisfaction rates among participants. Most participants reported wanting to continue telemedicine for their headache care.

Improved physician availability

The United States currently has a shortage Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source of headache specialists. The proportion of headache specialists to people who need headache care in rural areas is generally lower.

Telehealth services may let you work with a physician who is far away, relieving physician shortages and decreasing waitlist times.

Improved awareness and better outcomes

Telehealth may offer opportunities for extra help and education, including guidance on:

  • migraine self-care and lifestyle habits
  • using medications correctly
  • symptom tracking

These options may help improve your migraine management. The above 2023 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggested that migraine education leads to decreases in:

  • headache frequency
  • headache severity
  • headache duration
  • disability or adverse impacts on quality of life due to headaches

Possible limitations of telehealth for migraine

Possible drawbacks of using telehealth for migraine care include:

  • Technology: Not everyone may have the equipment needed for telehealth services, such as laptops or access to the internet. Some people may also find it difficult to use technology.
  • Range of care: Some migraine care cannot be given via telehealth, such as physical exams or brain scans during diagnosis.
  • Cost and insurance: Not all insurance providers or government programs cover all aspects of telehealth.
  • Privacy and security: Telemedicine services may be more susceptible to privacy and security risks, such as data breaches. Be sure to ask your healthcare center about precautions to avoid security and privacy threats.
  • Relationships: You may feel more comfortable working with your medical team in person.

Talk with your healthcare center or medical team if you have questions about using telehealth for migraine care.

Learn more about the types, benefits, and drawbacks of telehealth.

Preparing for a telehealth appointment for migraine

The following steps may help you get the most out of telehealth services for migraine:

  • Ensure your technology works before your appointment.
  • Ask your healthcare center or medical team for instructions.
  • Ask your healthcare center about their digital privacy and security precautions.
  • Write down your questions and concerns.
  • Prepare a list of your medications, medical history, and symptoms.

Read more about how to prepare for a telehealth appointment for migraine.

When to see a doctor in person

Sometimes, you may need in-person migraine care. This could include tests and exams, such as a physical exam or brain imaging scans.  

Some symptoms may also need to be checked in person. Contact a doctor as soon as possible for any of the following symptoms that occur with a headache:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • severe or sudden head pain
  • head pain after an injury or accident
  • weakness, numbness, or other changes in sensation
  • stiff neck
  • fever
  • vision changes
  • difficulty speaking
  • changes in mental status, such as confusion, lethargy, or decreased responsiveness

Learn when to contact a doctor or call 911 for headache symptoms.

Also, if you find using telehealth difficult, let your medical team know. They can provide in-person care for some services.

Summary

Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, offers many benefits for migraine care. Studies suggest that people often feel satisfied with the migraine care they receive through telemedicine.

Still, telehealth may be helpful for only some types of migraine care. Telemedicine’s drawbacks include the need for access to technology and digital security risks. 

Talk with your medical team or healthcare center if you have questions about telemedicine for migraine.

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Medical Reviewer: Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH
Last Review Date: 2024 May 28
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