Do I Need a Headache Specialist?

Find Relief for Persistent and Painful Headaches

By Morgan deBlecourt
January 07, 2020
A provider meets with a patient

As a headache specialist, Timothy A. Collins, MD works with patients to personalize treatment plans for their chronic headaches.

If frequent headaches or migraines are making your life miserable, it may be time to see an expert. Headache specialists are uniquely trained to evaluate and treat chronic headaches, migraines, and rare headache disorders.

“People don’t talk about their headaches. A lot of people brush them off because they’re considered to be a minor problem, and they think you should just push through it,” said Duke headache specialist Timothy Collins, MD. “But they’re much more common than you think, and they can be debilitating for your daily quality of life. The good news is that they don’t have to be.”

A headache specialist may be able to help if you:

  • Have tried two or more headache medications that haven’t worked
  • Have unusual symptoms with your headaches
  • Want to know whether new treatment options could be right for you
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“[Headaches are] much more common than you think, and they can be debilitating for your daily quality of life. The good news is that they don’t have to be.”

Timothy Collins, MD

What Is a Headache Specialist?

Headache specialists are neurologists who have completed an additional year of training (called a fellowship) specifically in headache medicine and have been certified by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties. They stay up to date on headache research and new treatment options.

Although researchers haven’t yet discovered what causes chronic headaches or migraines, the good news is there are dozens of medications that effectively treat them. The trick is finding the medication that works for you. That’s where the expertise and experience of a headache specialist can make a big difference.

“Not every medication works for every single person. What works for one may be ineffective for someone else, or the side effects aren’t worth it,” Collins said. “Sometimes it takes several trials of medications to find the right one.”

Helping You Feel Better

“It’s astounding how much headaches can affect people in their daily lives,” said Sweta Sengupta, a Duke headache specialist. “Headaches are actually the chief concern that a lot of patients have when they see their general neurologist. I really enjoy the chance to treat patients, to help them be able to focus, and to improve their functioning.”