Migraine: Why See a Specialist

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Doctor and patient speaking

Migraines are a complex problem that affect everyone differently. That’s why all migraine patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have the experience and resources to diagnose and manage your migraines successfully. That’s where specialists come in: a migraine specialist, called a neurologist, has the right skills and insight to help you prevent and stay in control of your migraines. Here’s why:

1. A neurologist completes extensive training in migraines and is an expert in migraine care.

A neurologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The nervous system is involved in many aspects of human health, so neurologists must train extensively to master this area of study. A neurologist will have expertise in treating migraines along with other headache disorders, and many clinical conditions related to the nervous system.

All doctors complete a training program called a residency after they finish medical school. But neurologists receive considerable training beyond that. Neurologists spend several additional years in a fellowship, during which they train under experienced neurologists and focus on patients with migraines and issues affecting the nervous system. At the end of this period, specialists are qualified to become board-certified neurologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in neurology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. A neurologist never stops learning about migraines.

To maintain their board certifications, neurologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified neurologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in migraines, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. A neurologist has extensive experience in treating migraines.

Neurologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with migraines, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with migraines, they can add real-world knowledge of the issue to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how migraines change over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. A neurologist is a team player.

Neurologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with migraines and can connect patients with pain management specialists, neuropsychologists, nutritionists, dentists, and other experts in migraine management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the disease and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right neurologist for you.

There are thousands of neurologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best neurologist to help you manage your migraines successfully.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Mar 29
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