Headache Center
What to Expect

What to Expect at Your First Appointment with the Headache Center

If your child suffers from migraines or tension headaches, their pain affects your entire family. The Headache Center at Cincinnati Children’s is here to help. We are a national leader in diagnosing and treating headache disorders in children, adolescents and young adults.

We also offer the Young Adult Headache (YAH) program, the only specialty clinic in the region focusing on the unique needs of young people with headaches aged 15-26. The clinic will help your teen manage their headaches and reduce the impact of their pain on their daily life into adulthood.

Making an Appointment

We recommend you get a referral from your primary care provider before your first visit, but it is not required. For appointments, referrals and general information about the Headache Center, contact us.

Before Your Appointment

After you schedule your first appointment, we will mail you an information packet that contains questionnaires. Please review and complete this paperwork before your first appointment. It is an important part of your evaluation, and we will review it completely at that visit.

If you have not received these questionnaires, please call the office to have them sent electronically. You must bring this packet and the completed questionnaires to the clinic appointment.

If you need to cancel your appointment, please do so as soon as possible so we can offer the time to another patient.

Cancellations within 24 hours of your first appointment will be considered a no-show and will require a new referral before you can schedule another appointment. If you must miss an appointment or have an urgent need, please contact us and ask for the Headache Center nurse.

On the Day of Your Appointment

Arriving at Your Appointment 

Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to register. Because we offer appointments at several locations, we recommend confirming your location ahead of time to allow extra time to find parking. 

Please bring these items to your first visit:

  • Your child’s insurance card and identification
  • Information packet, including completed questionnaires
  • Results of previous studies
  • Written list of questions for your care team

During Your Appointment

A neurologist and a psychologist will evaluate your child during the first appointment. The evaluation will include:

  • A review of the completed questionnaires
  • A discussion of your child’s headache history, including family history
  • A complete neurological and comprehensive headache exam
  • An evaluation of your child’s pain-related coping levels
  • An assessment of your child’s overall emotional adjustment
  • A review of possible barriers to treatment

After your child’s evaluation, your care team will work with your family to develop an individualized treatment plan. Your care team may also order additional studies, such as lab work or medical imaging, before finalizing the care plan.

A registered nurse experienced in pediatric, adolescent and young adult headache treatment will offer education on headache conditions and care at the end of the visit.

After Your Appointment

If you need follow-up visits at the Headache Center, you will see a nurse practitioner with expertise in headache management. For example, your child may need to learn computer-assisted biofeedback relaxation techniques for headache management. Or, we may recommend your child attend cognitive behavioral therapy to learn pain management skills.

A licensed social worker is also available to provide support with school and psychosocial concerns related to headaches.

We will continue to treat your child until the headaches are well-controlled and no longer a problem. Good headache control is generally defined as four or fewer headaches a month with a short duration and minimal interruption to your child’s daily routine. You should expect a follow-up visit every 6-8 weeks until your child achieves this level of headache control.

We will send your primary care provider a detailed letter describing our treatment recommendations after each visit to the Headache Center.

After your child completes therapy, our team will remain available to you if needed.