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NICE draft headache and migraine recommendations

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Headache and migraine diagnosis guidance will soon be available to nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals.

The revelation that sufferers might not be receiving correct and prompt diagnoses has prompted NICE to develop draft recommendations on the subject.

Headaches are one of the most common health complaints in the UK, but this marks the first time that healthcare professionals will be given advice on how to diagnose the three most common types of headache - tension-type headache, migraine and cluster headaches.

NICE advice will cover issues such as the exact location of the pain, its intensity, duration, frequency and other symptoms to consider.

NICE’s director of the centre for clinical practice, professor Mark Baker, said: “Despite headaches being the most common neurological problem presented to GPs and neurologists, many people who experience them aren’t receiving accurate or timely diagnoses.

“Also, concerns about the possible underlying causes need to be appropriately managed in order to avoid unnecessary investigations, which can in turn lead to delays in people receiving adequate pain relief, for what can be an extremely disabling condition.

“Once published, we hope our guidance will support healthcare professionals in recognising and diagnosing the most common types of primary headache and reassure their patients that other possible causes have been excluded.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Not before time. I've been a migraine sufferer for 35 years, all of my adult life and have yet to be controlled, but at least for the past 10 years (since referral to a neurologist) have been taken seriously.

    I recall GPs giving me useless advice such as "change your lifestyle'' (I had 2 small children at the time & worked part time nights!) or offering simple analgesia which just didn't touch the surface, making me feel I was some kind of neurotic nurse!

    Therefore, NICE guidance welcomed for GPs as long as it doesn't restrict prescribing in the next instance.

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