How We Treat Primary Headaches


Understanding And Treating Your Headaches

NewYork-Presbyterian's headache specialists include a broad roster of healthcare professionals with special training in the evaluation and treatment of headaches and facial pain. Your team may include neurologists, pain psychologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, neurosurgeons, pediatric pain management experts, or acupuncture specialists.

The diagnosis of a headache condition is made through a comprehensive medical evaluation that includes:

  • Obtaining a thorough history about your headache frequency, characteristics, and associated symptoms
  • Asking you to complete a "headache diary" to determine patterns and triggers for your headaches
  • Diagnostic testing that may include one or more of the following: blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and sometimes analysis of the spinal fluid

We customize treatment for each patient based on his or her type of headache, headache triggers, and other medical conditions. Treatment may consist of:

  • Lifestyle modifications: We may recommend that you avoid certain foods, improve your diet and sleep habits, exercise regularly, reduce stress, and/or try relaxation techniques.
  • Medical therapy: We may recommend medications to either stop a headache attack (“abortive treatments”) or reduce the intensity and frequency of your headaches long-term (“preventive treatments”). Some patients may require an intravenous infusion of medication(s) to break a prolonged headache cycle.  We provide such treatments in one of our outpatient neurology infusion centers, preventing an emergency room visit for pain relief.
  • Supervised detoxification: We offer these programs for patients with medication overuse headaches.
  • Special procedures: In certain cases, we may treat headache conditions with nerve blocks and/or Botox® injections.
  • Investigational treatment: Here at NewYork-Presbyterian, our investigators are involved in research studies evaluating new treatments for various headache disorders. If your headaches are not relieved using currently available methods, you may be able to participate in one of our clinical trials.

We believe this comprehensive assessment is important to understand your headaches so that we can provide the most effective course of treatment.