How Much Does The Average Doctor Know About Migraines?
The migraine education of an average doctor is reviewed in this article. I also discuss how the health care system sets doctors up for failure.
Eight Reasons Why Hospitals Fail Migraine Patients:
1. Migraine Education or Lack Thereof
On average, doctors only receive FOUR hours of education for all headache disorders, including migraines (World Health Organization).
It would take longer than four hours to read my 500-page book and that book only scratches the surface of one headache disorder: migraines.
There are over 300 headache disorders and this leaves almost no time for migraines. Many doctors receive ZERO hours of headache education (study).
2. Neurologist Migraine Education or Lack Thereof
Neurology residency lecture hours range from one hour to five plus hours for all headache disorders (study).
A neurologist could potentially spend ZERO hours on headache education in medical school and ONE hour during neurology residency.
According to Dr. Robert Cowan, a neurology professor and director of the headache program at Stanford, the average medical student gets about two hours of education on all headaches and he or she might get another two hours if neurology is pursued (Migraine World Summit).
3. Migraine Specialists Are Few and Far Between
According to research done at Harvard in 2015, about 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches or migraines (study). Each headache specialist would need to treat 90,000 patients for all migraineurs to get proper healthcare.
Some states have zero headache specialists (study).
The likelihood that an average migraine patient is under the care of a qualified headache specialist is slim.
4. 20-Minute Healthcare
A study conducted in Boston, Massachusetts, suggested that headache healthcare is worsening due to limited time (study).
“To me, this study suggests that the current 20-minute visit-based model of health care is broken,” said the lead author of the study. He was disturbed by doctors spending less time finding the root cause of headaches and instead quickly prescribing drugs and imaging tests.
Even if your doctor is well versed on migraines, he or she probably won’t have enough time to find the root cause of your migraines in such a limited time.
Migraine is misdiagnosed about 50 percent of the time, according to the National Headache Foundation.
Less than 25 percent of chronic migraineurs are accurately diagnosed (study).
Ninety percent of diagnosed sinus headaches are actually misdiagnosed migraines (study).
A recent study found that 91 percent of cervical pain syndrome (CP) patients suffered from migraine and were undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. The majority that believed they suffered from CP underwent unnecessary medical exams including radiation exposure (study).
When 50 percent of doctors fail, we should look at the system as failing. The system used for migraine diagnosis is extremely subjective and promotes large-scale misdiagnoses (full article).
6. There’s No Consistency
Hospitals do not follow a national guideline for treating migraines.
For example, Dr. John Claude Krusz, a doctor in Dallas, Texas, has a protocol that is 97.5 percent successful at stopping chronic headache and migraine pain (study). However, most of the emergency departments throughout the country appear to be unsuccessful at stopping migraine pain (study).
A 2014 study looked at 17,000 headache patients and found that a higher percentage of migraine patients were prescribed opioids instead of migraine medications (study).
Opioids should be avoided for migraine use and should not be used as a first line of treatment (study).
Opioids are administered in up to 60 to 70 percent of migraine emergency department visits, despite the negative research (news).
A new study found that over 25 different medications are used to treat migraine in the emergency room. Many of the drugs have no data to support their use (Study).
The random use of unsuccessful medications makes migraine treatment inconsistent at best.
7. The Drugs Suck
The strongest migraine medications have around a 50 percent success rate and come with horrible side effects (study).
Many doctors give up and just prescribe opioids, which will likely make migraines worse.
Migraine sufferers often return to the hospital and are treated like drug addicts for simply asking for the same medication they were given before.
Over 60 percent of migraineurs have had bad experiences with doctors, according to the Migraine Awareness Group.
Some doctors prescribe the wrong medications, some are unsympathetic to migraineurs, and the majority of doctors feel terrible that their medication options have such low success rates.
The migraine studies that showed the most success were studies that utilized dietary changes. Complete migraine remission is common from elimination diets in as little as three days (full article).
Medical school students receive 24 hours of nutritional education on average (study). You can bet that zero hours are spent on migraines and nutrition.
The most successful way to reduce migraines is not taught to doctors. In fact, there is no science-based curriculum for migraine nutrition. For this reason, I have spent years developing one (full diet).
Doctors Are Your Partner
Any doctor can administer tests that help identify the root cause of migraine.
Tests may include metabolic panels, a complete blood count (blood test), a thyroid function test, a micronutrient test, a stool test, an MTHFR gene test, a histamine test, and a TMD test as well as others.
Doctors are essential for diagnosing over 40 conditions that could trigger migraines (full article).
Migraine is the largest neurological disorder (study). There are many great doctors that have experience in the field and have educated themselves on how to accurately diagnose the root source of migraines.
Forty percent of migraineurs are happy with their doctors, so the odds are good that you will be able to find a doctor that is on board with your health goals.
The healthcare system has limited migraine education, nutritional education, and patient/doctor contact time. In addition, the medications that are used are often unsuccessful.
The healthcare system has failed migraineurs. Patients need to educate themselves on migraines and understand the limitations of doctors in a broken medical system.
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