If your child is suffering from headaches that interfere with school, enjoyment of activities, or sleep, you need the help of experts like those found at NewYork-Presbyterian. At the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center Headache and Facial Pain Center and the NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine Headache Program, headache specialists diagnose and treat headaches in adults, children, and adolescents. We get to the root of what is causing your child’s headaches and customize a plan of care to relieve pain and restore quality of life.
About Our Program
Understanding and Treating Your Child’s Headaches
At the NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Headache and Facial Pain Center and the NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine Headache Program, multidisciplinary teams of headache experts serve patients with the most advanced treatment protocols in headache medicine. Your child’s team includes pediatric neurologists with subspecialty training in headache and facial pain disorders in children, pediatric pain management specialists, pediatric neurosurgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and physical medicine specialists to treat both common and intractable headache and facial pain disorders.
Comprehensive care begins with a detailed medical history, neurologic exam, neuropsychological assessment, and other state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures as needed. We customize treatment for each child based on his or her type of headache, headache triggers, and other medical conditions.
Patients and their families can feel at ease knowing that all of their medical needs can be addressed in one location with the highest level of care and expertise.
Types of Headaches: Primary and Secondary
Primary headaches are when the headache itself is the main problem, and it is not a symptom of an underlying disease or condition. The causes of primary headache pain may be triggered by certain foods, medications, dehydration, weather changes, or changing levels of hormones.
NewYork-Presbyterian's headache specialists have exceptional expertise in treating all types of primary headache disorders, including migraine headaches, tension-type headaches, and cluster headaches.
Secondary headaches are symptoms of another medical problem, such as an aneurysm or brain tumor. Headaches that are extremely severe or cause vision changes, weakness of the arms or legs, or seizures may be caused by an aneurysm and require emergency attention. Patients with secondary headaches who come to NewYork-Presbyterian will be referred for appropriate care by our specialized physicians.
How We Diagnose Headaches
At NewYork-Presbyterian, pediatric neurologists work with other specialists to diagnose your child’s headache condition through a comprehensive medical evaluation that includes:
- A thorough history of headache frequency, characteristics, and associated symptoms
- Keeping a "headache diary" to determine patterns and triggers for the headaches
- Diagnostic testing that may include blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, and sometimes analysis of cerebral spinal fluid
Our Approach to Care
Multidisciplinary Team Approach
At NewYork-Presbyterian, specialists from a wide range of disciplines collaborate to provide care, which ensures that your child receives the individualized treatment needed to achieve the best outcome. Your child’s team includes pediatric neurologists with subspecialty training in headache and facial pain disorders in children, pediatric pain management specialists, pediatric neurosurgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, and physical medicine specialists to treat both common and intractable headache and facial pain disorders.
Seamless, Coordinated Care
We understand it can be challenging to juggle appointments and manage all the different aspects of your child's care. To provide seamless, efficient care, our patient care coordinators manage all the specialty consultations and steps required to care for your child. Our coordinators help arrange any necessary appointments, explain treatments, and review the timeframe for your child's care. We also help coordinate the care provided by our team with your child's.
How We Treat Headaches
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 your child avoid certain “triggers” such as certain foods and beverages, improve 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 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.
- Neuromodulation strategies: We may recommend occipital nerve stimulation, transcutaneous nerve stimulation, or transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Additional Therapies: We offer biofeedback, acupuncture, and physiotherapy for patients with headaches or facial pain who may be candidates for this approach.
- Investigational treatment: At NewYork-Presbyterian, our investigators are involved in research studies evaluating new treatments for various headache disorders. If your child’s headaches are not relieved using currently available methods, he or she may be able to participate in one of our clinical trials.
Why Choose Us
Dedicated Headache Centers
- The NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center Headache and Facial Pain Center is an established leader in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of headache and facial pain disorders in adults and children.
- The NewYork-Presbyterian & Weill Cornell Medicine Headache Program is a global leader in treating headaches and migraines. We offer comprehensive, specialized care for adults, adolescents, and children—helping all patients find relief and improve their quality of life.
Propelling the Field Through Research
NewYork-Presbyterian’s headache programs are dedicated to providing excellent patient care beyond the exam room. Our physician-scientists are currently researching to help improve headache diagnosis, therapies, and procedures. Current fields of inquiry include currently researching:
- Migraines and menstruation
- Head injury management and recovery
- Adolescent migraines
- Abdominal migraines
- How to better treat acute headaches and migraines in the emergency department
- New and innovative diagnostic strategies, tools, and treatments for headache pain
As part of our goal to advance headache care, our physicians perform clinical trials that give patients access to cutting-edge treatments that may not be available elsewhere.
Access to World-Class Pediatric Specialists
Your child's healthcare team has access to all of the various pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists who practice at NewYork-Presbyterian, ensuring that all of your child's medical needs can be addressed.
Seamless Access to Resources and Support Services
At New York-Presbyterian, patients and families have seamless access to our vast resources, including on-staff neuropsychologists who offer testing and treatments for emotional and cognitive issues that may occur after a brain or spine injury. We also have a Parent-to-Parent program that can connect you personally with a parent whose child has been treated for the condition your child has.