Menu

Your Migraine Health Care Team

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on November 09, 2020

If you have migraines, long-term headaches may affect many aspects of your life. You may meet different health care specialists during your treatment journey.

Primary Care Doctor

This is the person you see for your routine medical visits. A primary care physician may be a family doctor, internist, or an OB/GYN. It may even be a nurse practitioner. They may first diagnose your migraine and offer treatment. If you get headaches that are frequent, turn worse even with pain relievers, or interferes with your daily life, see your primary care doctor.

Neurologist

This doctor specializes in treating brain and nervous system disorders. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a neurologist if they think you need more advanced diagnosis or if your symptoms don’t get better. A neurologist may become your main headache doctor.

Your neurologist may give you a full medical exam to rule out other diseases. This might include a CT scan, MRI, or spinal tap.

They also may tailor your treatment with migraine medicines, preventative medicines, abortive medicines, surgery, or other therapies. Your neurologist will guide you through your treatments.

Complementary Care Providers

Along with or instead of medications and other conventional treatments, you may want to try complementary and alternative therapies for migraine pain. These providers may include:

Acupuncturist. They use needle pricks on specific points on your skin to help ease pain. Studies suggest that acupuncture may help with migraines. Check that your acupuncturist is certified in your state or is otherwise qualified.

Biofeedback therapist. They use electronic devices to help you learn to control your breathing, heart rate, and other body functions. Biofeedback seems to work on lowering migraine pain. Psychologists, nurses, and physical therapists can perform biofeedback.

Homeopathic providers. They use plants, minerals, and other natural substances to make tinctures and other products to help the body heal itself. The evidence isn’t very strong that any homeopathic treatment works effectively for specific medical conditions.

Psychologist

They are not doctors but specialists in mental health. Psychologist may be part of your migraine care team for two main reasons:

  • To suggest treatments to deal with migraines
  • To help you manage the mental effects of migraine, such as stress and depression

Your psychologist can teach you relaxation strategies and tips to handle stress and pain. They may also work with you on your migraine triggers so that you can learn to handle daily activities with fewer interruptions.

Nutritionist

Your diet often affects your migraines. Certain foods may trigger your head pain.

A nutritionist can help you create an eating plan for your migraines while making sure that you get all the nutrients you need.

Let your primary care doctor know if you’re seeing other medical professionals for your migraines. That helps your doctor better manage your overall care.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:
Mayo Clinic Proceedings: “The Impact of Migraine and the Effect of Migraine Treatment on Workplace Productivity in the United States and Suggestions for Future Research.”

Mayo Clinic: “When to see a doctor,” “Migraine,” “Acupuncture,” “Biofeedback.”

Columbia University Department of Neurology: “Migraine Headaches.”

American Migraine Foundation: “Integrative and Complementary Migraine Treatments,” “Migraine and Diet.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Headaches: In Depth.”

Association of Migraine Disorders: “Why Try CCBT for Migraine.”

Emad Estemalik, MD, section head, Headache Clinic at Cleveland Clinic.

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.