Jessica Ailani, MD: Delving Deeper into the Status of Patients With Migraine

November 18, 2018

The director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Headache Center stressed building a culture of teaching patients to be their own advocates and to build the relationship with the patient to better manage their migraines.

“With migraine, it tends to very quickly be pushed as ‘just a headache,’ So these patients develop this stigma of ‘it’s just a headache, so it’s not valuable enough to talk about, and there are so few options that if something is kind of working, I guess it’s good enough.’ ”

Across the various types of headache conditions, some patients, such as those with cluster headache, learn to become advocates for themselves. They’re educated about their condition, and they push for better treatment options to improve their quality of life.

According to Jessica Ailani, MD, with migraine, however, stigma has forced the conversation elsewhere, where patients are often not believed by some to be suffering the way they are. This, she said, can lead to them settling for ineffective therapies and failing to push for better options—leaving the burden of inquiring further about the state of their condition to the physician.

At the American Headache Society’s 2018 Scottsdale Headache Symposium in Arizona, Ailani sat with NeurologyLive to discuss the importance of ensuring physicians are taking the time to ask just 1 more question during visits. By delving into their current status, and not taking “I’m fine” at face value, it can make all the difference for a patient’s care.

Ailani, the director of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Headache Center stressed building a culture of teaching patients to be their own advocates and to build the relationship with the patient to better manage their migraines.