How Are Headaches Evaluated and Diagnosed?

The good news for headache sufferers is that once a correct headache diagnosis is made, an effective treatment plan can be started. It seems logical that the majority of migraine or tension headaches originate from neck problems. It also seems logical that if we established what was causing these neck problems, and eliminated what was causing them, we could also eliminate the headaches.

Chiropractors for example, after examining thousands of patients, discovered that as many as 95% of neck pain and headache patients had one thing in common - a reversed neck curve. From the side view a normal neck should have a slight curve in it. But as many as 95% of headache and neck pain patients had either a lessening of that curve, no curve at all, or a curve that was completely reversed.

If you have headache symptoms, the first step is to go to your family doctor. He or she will perform a complete physical examination and a headache evaluation. During the headache evaluation, your headache history and description of the headaches will be evaluated. You will be asked to describe your headache symptoms and characteristics as completely as possible.

A headache evaluation may include a CT scan or MRI if a structural disorder of the central nervous system is suspected. Both of these tests produce cross-sectional images of the brain that can reveal abnormal areas or problems. Skull X-rays are not helpful. An EEG (electroencephalogram) is also unnecessary unless you have experienced a loss of consciousness with a headache.

If your headache symptoms become worse or become more frequent despite treatment, ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist. Your family doctor should be able to provide the names of headache specialists. If you need more information, contact one of the organizations in the resource list for a list of member doctors in your state.