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VHA Headache Center of Excellence

We provide comprehensive headache care for Veterans with headache disorders.

Headache health care

Headaches are often treated by addressing lifestyle factors in addition to medication options. Your treatment plan may include a combination of the specialties to help you meet your goals.

Minneapolis VA is a VHA Headache Center of Excellence. The center is a collaboration between our Comprehensive Pain Center, Neurology Service and TBI/Polytrauma Clinic. Patients can work with their primary care provider for the appropriate referral.

Headache disorders

When to contact your primary care provider

Contact your primary care provider if your headache meets any of the following criteria:

  • Long-lasting headaches
  • Older than age 50 with new headache 
  • A headache that never goes away
  • Weakened immune system and new headaches
  • Have fever, chills, sweating at night and new headache
  • Headaches that happen when you exert yourself, even if you cough or sneeze
  • Headaches that wake you up at night
  • Headaches that happen with position changes
  • A new headache after head injury
  • A headache that happens with fever, rash, weight-loss, neck stiffness, confusion, speaking problems, vision problems, weakness or dizziness.
  • A sudden headache that quickly becomes severe
  • A headache that is different from your usual headaches or does not resolve with your usual treatments

Your headache disorder care team

Your care team may include:

  • Physiatry
  • Neurology
  • Pain medicine
  • Brain injury medicine
  • Case management
  • Clinical pharmacist practitioner
  • Chiropractic
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Psychology
  • Vision therapy
  • Other consultative services

Education: headache disorders

Headache disorders are identified as repeated headache episodes and are among the most common reasons for which people seek medical care.

Types of headaches

There are two general types of headaches, primary headaches and secondary headaches. A primary headache is when the headache itself is the main problem and not a symptom of another condition. These types of headaches occur more than once. The most common types of primary headaches are tension, migraine and cluster headaches.

Secondary headaches have an identifiable cause or are a symptom of another condition. Causes of secondary headaches can include, but are not limited to, a head or neck injury, or certain medications or substances.

Track your headaches

Headache tracker apps

Migraine Monitor

Track your headaches and share the information with your provider; free on iPhone and Android.

Migraine Buddy

Learn and communicate about your condition; free on iPhone and Android.

Health Storylines

Store and track information on your medications, symptoms, mood, weight, blood pressure and more; free on iPhone and Android.

Headache resources

VHA Headache Centers of Excellence Program

The VA’s Headache Centers of Excellence provide clinical care, outreach, research and education to Veterans with headaches.

American Headache Society

The goal of the American Headache Society is to improve the lives of people impacted by migraine and other headache disorders, by encouraging scientific research and educating physicians, health professionals and the public.

American Migraine Foundation

American Migraine Foundation's mission is to mobilize a community for patient support and advocacy, as well as drive and support impactful research that translates into advances for patients with migraine and other disabling diseases that cause severe head pain.