A Guide to Talking to Your Doctor About Migraine

Talking to your doctor is the first step in managing migraine, and communicating effectively benefits you and your doctor.

Migraine often requires people to advocate for themselves to get the treatment they deserve. Properly preparing for a doctor’s appointment can help get all of your concerns addressed and questions answered. This is especially important when working with your doctor to get a diagnosis or develop a migraine treatment plan.

You are not alone when it comes to managing migraine. The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) is proud to provide you with free migraine resources and support. Below are some useful strategies to help you talk to your doctor about migraine.

How to Prepare for a Migraine Appointment

A little preparation before your appointment can go a long way toward receiving the care you need. Preparations allow you to establish what you want and need to know about migraine and treatment options. Knowing how to talk to your doctor will also help you better advocate for yourself.

#1 Be Prepared to Describe Your Head Pain

Before you meet with your doctor, be prepared to describe your head pain. Use the 0-10 pain scale to provide details to your doctor. There are also some words you should know to describe your head pain. For example, a migraine attack often feels like a ‘throbbing pain’ or ‘pounding sensation.’

Use these words so your doctor can better understand your pain and lead to a diagnosis:

  • Stabbing
  • Throbbing
  • Crushing
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Sharp
  • Hot poker
  • Ice pick
  • Pressure
  • Constant
  • Persistent

While head pain is a common symptom of migraine, not everyone experiences it. Migraine is unique for each person. As such, some people may have different symptoms of migraine.

#2 Keep a Record of Symptoms and Triggers

Keep a migraine diary that documents your symptoms, triggers and medications. Share this information with your doctor. Organizing this information in one place can help your doctor better understand your disease. It gives them a complete overview and a better understanding of your disease. This will help them determine the best treatment plan for you.

#3 Know Your Family Medical History

Migraine is a hereditary disease. Look into your family’s medical history, and see if any relatives also experienced migraine. If an individual has one or two parents with migraine, there is a 50-75% chance they will also have migraine.

#4 Bring All of Your Medical Records and Prior Testing

When you visit your doctor, make sure to bring documentation of any medical records that may help paint a more complete and accurate picture of your migraine. This should include a list of all medications or treatments you’ve tried previously, including how you responded to each and any side effects you experienced. Additionally, bring documentation of all relevant medical tests you’ve already had performed along with a full copy of the results if possible.

#5 Do Your Own Research

Research your symptoms, triggers and potential treatment plans. This can help you better understand your experiences with migraine and prepare you to talk to your doctor about potential treatments and ways to manage your symptoms. Use AMF’s free Resource Library for more information.

#6 Have Questions Ready

Remember, it’s okay to ask questions. Get the information you need to understand migraine and how it impacts your life. Ask for explanations for any symptom issues or treatment options. Some questions you can ask your doctor include:

  • What can I expect from my treatment plan?
  • What side effects can occur with this certain medication?
  • Can non-medication treatments and supplements help?

#7 Be Open and Honest

Above all else, communicate openly and honestly with your doctor. Find a doctor you can trust and feel comfortable with. Once you do, let them know you want to discuss migraine and treatment options. Open communication will help you and your doctor. It will create a more effective process for figuring out your best treatment plan.

Talking to your doctor is the first step toward getting the treatment you need and deserve for migraine. The American Migraine Foundation has several resources to help you figure out how to talk to your doctor, including a detailed patient guide.

The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.

Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.