New Headache Patients

In order to prepare our patients to the best of our ability and to ensure optimum response to the treatments that are available, all new patients are to complete the following steps prior to seeing our providers.

Headache Center Education Class

About six to eight weeks prior to the consult appointment, we have patients attend our free one-hour education class, which is located at the Integrated Care Campus on the East Beltline. This class includes an overview of what headache and migraine are, overview of lifestyle factors that could be negatively impacting the frequency and severity of your headaches or migraines, discussion of steps that can be taken to see improvement, overview of treatment plans available within the Headache Center, and explanation of what to expect and how to prepare for your consult.

A large goal of having patients complete the education class prior to their consult is to start treatment for patients before they even see the provider and to set them up for optimum success once they see the provider. Lifestyle modifications are changes patients can make independently at home, in the interim, while waiting for their consult appointment. Making lifestyle modifications can have an enormous impact on headache frequency and intensity. If patients can modify some or all of these factors before they reach the provider, it will also give the patient the optimum chance of responding to additional psychotherapy and medical treatments.

Lab Work

All new patients are required to complete and pass a urine drug screen before they are able to see our providers. This screen is in place to ensure no patient harm comes from any possible drug interaction between any illicit drugs (drugs not prescribed by a provider, including marijuana) and medications available for treatment.  New patients are also required to complete and pass a urine nicotine screen before they are able to see our providers. Nicotine is a known trigger for headaches and it doubles the likelihood of developing them. In addition, nicotine has a significant blocking effect on the medications that are available for treatment. Nicotine cessation can decrease how often and how severely the patient experiences headaches, and it can also greatly improve the patient’s response to medications available.

  • We want all patients to be successful in this area, as we know it can have a great impact on their success in managing headaches.
  • These labs are to be completed at any Spectrum Health laboratory within a week of attending the education class.
  • Contact our nurse navigator to discuss smoking cessation resources or download one of our documents:
    - Local Smoking Cessation Programs
    - Quit for Life


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For additional resources, visit the American Headache Society and American Migraine Foundation.