Headaches 2013: The Importance of Empathy

By | March 8, 2013

It is in dealing with headache patients that I find it most important to remember the line in Maimonides Physician's Prayer, "May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain."

It is in dealing with headache patients that I find it most important to remember the line in Maimonides Physician’s Prayer, “May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain.”

It’s been a long time since we talked about chronic headaches and they remain one of the most undertreated conditions I see. The reason for this in my opinion is a lack of understanding and a lack of empathy. Everyone has had a headache, usually a mild tension headache and if you think that the patient sitting in front of you is just a cry-baby with one of these, you probably shouldn’t be doing this kind of work. The best pain clinic in Los Angeles would know that there are dozens of different types of headaches, with different etiologies and different treatments and that this is one of the areas where a pain management specialist can make the most difference. Most primary care physicians will never see a wide enough range of these different headaches to appreciate the subtleties and nuances of obtaining the proper history and the important signs to be elicited on physical exam to either confirm or refute the diagnosis. At Schlesinger Pain Centers almost a third of our work is head and neck pain, whereas in most pain clinics this makes up 5% or less. In the coming blogs we will discuss some of the modern approaches to diagnosis and headache treatment.


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