What kind of healthcare professionals do I need for headaches?

The first person to see for your headaches should be your regular doctor. Your doctor will review:

  • your medical history
  • your family medical history
  • results of your physical examination, including any laboratory tests

Your doctor may diagnose and treat your headache on his or her own. Or your doctor may refer you to a headache specialist.


A headache specialist is a doctor who:

  • has training or board certification in a specialty associated with headaches, such as neurology
  • is a member of any national organization that deals with headaches, such as the National Headache Foundation (NHF), the American Association for the Study of Headache (AASH), or the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
  • has experience and expertise in headache care
  • dedicates part of his or her practice to headache care
  • may have done research, writing, or teaching on headache care

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if:

  • your diagnosis is uncertain
  • you have other conditions that complicate treatment
  • you have not responded to at least 2 different courses of treatment
  • you take pain medicine every day

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