How is a Headache Specialist Different than a Pain Management Doctor?

By Annette GallagherMarch 7, 2016No Comments

For patients dealing with chronic pain in the form of headaches, whether just a dull ache or a full on migraine, relief may be hard to come by. In some cases, people who suffer from ongoing pain seek out the help of a pain management specialist who will provide them with a variety of therapies, exercises, and prescriptions to treat the pain itself.

On the other hand, headache specialists delve deeper into the neurology of the head pain and treat not just the symptoms, but the underlying causes of the pain at the most basic level.


Pain management specialists treat a wide variety of patient types. Their focus on reducing chronic pain can be applied to anyone from the migraine sufferer to the arthritic, and people who suffer from cancer or other degenerative diseases. They rely on a few simple solutions that are known to treat various kinds of pain effectively.

A headache specialist will be much more focused in the types of patients that they see, and have a much more detailed way of qualifying the type of pain that is being experienced. As a result, their treatment options will be more targeted toward specific types of pain and will likely have better and longer-lasting results.


One of the main differences between pain management doctors and headache experts is the level of diagnosis that will be done on the patient. Pain management specialists can be knowledgable in a wide range of medical fields including anesthesiology, neurology and psychology, but they use those fields of knowledge as tools for treatment of pain, not necessarily for deep diagnosis.

By contrast, a team specializing in headaches will have a neurologist on staff who is able to diagnose the type of headaches that are occurring, the root causes of those headaches, the triggers, and the medical background that has led up to the situation.


Again, pain management doctors are specifically focused on just treating the pain that is resulting from headaches, but not necessarily the cause of the headaches themselves. A migraine and headache expert will focus on providing treatment that prevents headaches from occurring, rather than allowing the headaches to continue happening. Ideally, if headaches can be prevented before they ever occur, the patient will not require any pain management in the first place.


Overall, pain management teams exist to treat a wide variety of ailments that cause chronic pain in patients, but they are not necessarily a good source of treatment for specific and detailed illnesses that require exact diagnoses.

Headache and migraine doctors rely on a strong background in neurology to provide a comprehensive treatment regimen that is aimed directly at the core causes of headache pain before the pain even begins. Treatment methodology and techniques will be based on a unique and better understanding of how headaches affect patients as opposed to relying on basic pain medications to provide temporary relief.


For more information about migraine and headache treatment from a qualified neurologist and headache specialist, please call the National Headache Institute today.

Our team, including neurologist Dr. Payman Sadhegi, will schedule a consultation to diagnose the type and causes of your headaches and help you begin a treatment towards fewer and less painful headaches. We have the background knowledge and experience to handle even the most extreme headache cases and we are confident that we can help you.