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What Your Doctor May Not Know About Migraines

by Eloiza

There is no doubt that a migraine’s pulsating, pounding agony and disorientation are enough to destroy your day. Additionally, learning that your doctor lacks the necessary expertise in identifying and treating migraines might make your misery even worse. Unfortunately, this can be a typical circumstance. An investigation on how much women’s healthcare professionals, like ob-gyns, know about identifying and treating migraines — and the knowledge gaps they have — was published in the December 30, 2020, issue of the journal Headache.

Although common, research suggests that doctors may not always effectively treat migraines.

While 83 percent of the doctors indicated they feel very or somewhat comfortable diagnosing migraine, the researchers found that only 58 percent of the doctors consistently ask their patients about headaches during their annual visits. The study involved 115 women’s healthcare professionals in Connecticut.

Only 24% of people would request magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for a brand-new type of headache, while 48% would do so for headaches accompanied with neurologic symptoms including altered awareness, weakness, numbness, changed vision, or difficulty speaking.

Less than half of the doctors were familiar about popular pharmaceuticals like triptans, NSAIDs, and opioids that can cause rebound headaches if used excessively for acute episodes. These drugs are also connected to medication overuse headaches.

The fact that just 37% of respondents said they had received instruction concerning headaches and migraines may be the cause of many of these discrepancies.

Women’s Migraine May Be Misdiagnosed and Undertreated

The director of the Hartford Healthcare Headache Center and a professor of neurology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Brian M. Grosberg, MD, a coauthor of the study, notes that “less than half of the physicians reported prescription migraine-specific drugs.” Additionally, “the majority of clinicians reported concern in frequently prescribing preventive drugs [for migraine]. This is worrisome because prior study indicates that just 13 percent of migraine patients receive preventative care, despite the fact that almost 40% of them may be qualified.

Additionally, only a small percentage of participants mentioned referring patients for evidence-based non-drug treatments for migraine, such as biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or relaxation methods.

Find out where to go for migraine treatment and care.

Women who suffer from migraine should think about consulting a headache specialist or neurologist, advises Grosberg, until gynecologists and other female healthcare professionals obtain more training in the assessment and treatment of headache. The same is true if you experience migraines frequently, if you experience more than four episodes each month, or if you take too many or inefficient acute treatments.

Dr. Rajneesh concurs: “Discuss with your doctor if a meeting with a neurologist is a logical next step if you believe that you have taken multiple steps and not made any progress in the treatment of your migraine headaches.”

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