Welcome to Virtual Headache Specialist™. You have likely found this website or have been referred to it by a family member, friend, or medical professional because of an ongoing headache or facial pain disorder. There are a tremendous amount of patients suffering with debilitating headache and facial pain disorders. Unfortunately, there are very few headache specialists available to help them. This makes access to appropriate care for proper diagnosis and treatment very difficult, and many times impossible. This results in prolonged suffering without clear answers or direction, and a poor quality of life affecting personal, family, social, and work life. The purpose of Virtual Headache Specialist™ is to help alleviate the lack of access to a headache specialist, as well as provide information and guidance to you and your physician in the possible diagnoses, education, and common treatments of your possible headache or facial pain disorder.
Virtual Headache Specialist™ was created by an ABPN (American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology) certified neurologist who is also a UCNS (United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties) certified Diplomat in Headache Medicine, working in a large academic medical institution. Virtual Headache Specialist™ is a diagnostic tool that begins with interactive graphics to focus on where your pain is located. This is followed by a series of detailed and specific questions, based on the location and pattern of your pain. These questions simulate the questions and interview techniques done in the office with a headache specialist as they attempt to narrow in on the most likely headache or facial pain diagnostic possibilities, provided to you in a ranked order. Virtual Headache Specialist™ evaluates for all primary headache and facial pain disorders (due to the headache or facial pain condition itself and not from another cause), and some secondary headache and facial pain disorders (due to another underlying condition of which headache or facial pain is a symptom).
A prior analysis showed that 6 states had no headache specialists at all, 8 states had only 1 headache specialist, and 5 states had only 2 headache specialists. The shortage of headache specialists is expected to worsen in the coming years. As of 2017, there were only 520 certified headache specialists/diplomats practicing in the United States. With the 2017 population of the U.S. approaching 325 million people, that means there is 1 headache specialist for every 625,000 people. It is estimated that 45 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic recurring headaches, which means there is 1 headache specialist for every 87,000 people with headache disorders. It is also estimated that there are 38 million people in the U.S. who have migraine, which means there is 1 headache specialist for every 74,000 people with migraine. These headache specialist shortages are similar in most other countries as well. These figures do not take into account the many other types of complicated headache and facial pain disorders, which only magnify the already enormous shortage of headache specialists. Ultimately, this inadequate access to care for proper evaluation and treatment of these debilitating disorders leads to unnecessary suffering and a poor quality of life for many years, with severe negative impacts on personal, family, work, and social functioning.
Patients with headache and facial pain disorders are often referred to a neurologist by their primary care physician. Unfortunately, most general neurologists have inadequate subspecialty training in headache medicine, often have other subspecialty interests and practice scopes, and may not have much more to offer than the patient’s primary care provider does. There is a misperception that all neurologists are also headache specialists, but this is far from the truth. Although headache disorders are one of the most common neurological problems, the fact is that most general neurologists lack experience in the evaluation and treatment of many headache and facial pain disorders, especially more complex ones.
Virtual Headache Specialist™ aims to help patients who do not have access to a headache specialist gain some expertise and insight into possible diagnoses, treatments, and other education regarding their possible types of headache or facial pain. The Internet can be a scary and frustrating place without clear direction of what you are searching for, and self-diagnosis almost always equates to misdiagnosis and unnecessary worry and anxiety. This tool will hopefully help decrease the ongoing burden of improperly treated headache and facial pain disorders resulting from a lack of headache specialist access and expertise. Virtual Headache Specialist™ attempts to provide expertise and direction for headache and facial pain disorders from the comfort of home without having to travel many miles out of state or country and spend excessive amounts of money to see a headache expert. The information obtained can be printed out for your personal education, and can be taken to your doctor to help guide him/her to more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatment decisions.
Virtual Headache Specialist™ should not be considered a replacement to an office visit with a doctor. An office visit with a physician is mandatory for a more detailed medical history and neurological examination before any definite diagnosis or treatment decisions can be made. Your physician needs to make those final decisions. Virtual Headache Specialist™ should be considered as a supplement to that office visit. Ultimately, the information obtained from Virtual Headache Specialist™ will hopefully provide a starting point towards a path of less pain, better understanding, improved functioning, and an overall enhanced quality of life.
Virtual Headache Specialist™