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Headache Doctor Appointments: 4 Essential Questions To Ask

Written and verified by Holly Hazen

Ever come away from your headache doctor thinking what the? Where everything sounded like Klingon, or feeling like s/he didn't hear a word you said?

Here are THE questions you need to ask and some great tips to be more prepared for your next appointment. Stop wasting time, money and your precious energy.

How To Work With Your Headache Doctor @migrainesavvy #migrainerelief #stopmigraines #migrainesareafulltimejobUse P.A.R.T. - One effective way to develop a productive partnership with your doctor @migrainesavvy

I want to stress how important it is to become your own best adviser as you navigate the road to pain relief and reclaim your life.

Don’t settle for breakthrough pain or give up too early like I did.

Seek treatment from a specialized headache doctor to get the right diagnosis. Once you know what you have, you can treat it more effectively. 

If you are assigned a doctor you just don't like or can't relate to, ask to be referred on to someone who has a special interest in migraines.

Make sure they know migraines... or that they can work with what you bring to the appointment.

Your health care team might look like this (this is mine):

  • GP or general practitioner, doctor, family physician, MD for referrals, your 'normal' conditions and other chronic ailments
  • Functional medical doctor for a more natural approach
  • Headache specialist or pain specialist to help with the migraine attacks
  • Psychologist
  • Physiotherapist 

I realize that not all countries have the opportunity to doctor hunt, but if you can, find one who you trust and is open to experiment with you and treating your migraines.

Keep good records in case you need to see more than one doctor.

One Effective Way To Deal With Your Headache Doctor

Dr. Bruce Campbell, who specializes in CFIDS (chronic fatigue syndrome) stresses how important it is to develop a partnership with your doctor.

He highlights the importance of making your ongoing relationship with your doctor a productive one.

His article suggests using "P.A.R.T." from the book Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions.

To get the most from your doctor visits you should "prepare, be active, repeat, and take action." 

P. A. R. T.





Prepare - write down a list of your questions or problems. Take the list of symptoms and questions with you, get the list out and go through it one item at a time.

Be Active - succinctly state your concerns and what you want from the doctor. Something like "I’m here today because I am just getting too much breakthrough pain." Or "I’m concerned because …"

Be active by asking questions: get clear about your diagnosis; ask what can be learned from the test they just selected for you; ask about treatment options and follow-up visits.

Ask about both medical and behavioral treatment options and inquire about the risks and benefits of each.

Repeat – repeat back to the doctor the key points to make sure you understand it all correctly.

Take Action – at the end of the appointment make sure you completely understand what you have to do next. This is your time to ask the right questions. 

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4 Great Questions You Can Ask

It is important to ask your headache doctor questions at the end of your appointment if you feel unclear on their directions or don't understand what you need to do.

I know this sounds simple, but I have discovered it's not. Sometimes what you ask, is not what gets answered. Somewhere along the line I forgot doctors were human too.

Ask these two simple questions at the end of your appointment:

"Is there anything else you can do to help me right now?"


"Is there anything else you think I can do to help myself?" [1]

It’s surprising how often these two questions can prompt the doctor to think out of the box and dig around their brain for ideas and solutions. [1] I notice when I do ask these questions, and pause, it gives the doctor some extra time to think.

I normally feel confused and overwhelmed, so these are perfect to help me reflect too.

Give your doctor some time to think. I count to 10 or 20 and wait in silence for their reply!

The other thing to do is to reflect back what they have told you to do.

So, "have I got this right? You want me to increase this dose and then reduce that one?"

I realize these may sound simple as you are already doing everything humanly possible... but try them... and then pause to be aware of what you notice?

Did the doctor do anything differently when you paused and asked the questions?

Did you take a few minutes to reflect back what they said? How did that feel?

Did I get that right?

The other good question you can ask is:

"If you were me, what would you do?"

This is a good one when you feel overwhelmed with choices. Choices that all sound awful.

I used this recently with the pain specialist when he suggested Botox injections, surgery, nerve blocks, and more surgery to a tune of $30,000!

If anything, asking a few questions for them to ponder can give you some time to catch your breath.

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Here Are A Few More Tips To Help You Prepare

  • Keep a record of failed medications to show each new specialist along the way. There are quite a few painkillers, abortive drugs and prophylactics for your headache doctor to trial with you. Trust me when I say it will pay to keep a list in case it takes some time to find what works effectively.
Click Here

Click here to download and print the PDF for the medication tracker I use.

  • Get your doctor to help you fill in this treatment strategy for acute, rescue and preventive treatment instructions. 
Great headache doctor questions and tips for more efficient appointments @migrainesavvy #migrainerelief #stopmigraine #headacherelief

International Links To Headache Doctors and Clinics

I am building this list for a global directory, so send in your link(s) if I am missing your country:

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CURE HEADACHES  Related Articles

How to be more migraine savvy right now...

Headache Doctor Resources:
1. Best email ever from Lottie Ryan: five tips for getting the most help from your doctor appointments.
2. Campbell, Bruce CFIDS Develop a partnership with your doctor.